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Stud ies in Vedanta 

BY 

Rao Bahadur VASUDEVA J. KIRTIKAR, 

(Some time Government Pleader and Judge of His Majesty's High Court oj 
Judicature at Bombay and Fellow oithe Bombay University.) 


EDITED BY 

MUKUND R. JAYAKAR, 

M.A., LL.B., Bar-at-Law, 

Member , Bombay Legislative Council . 


D. B. TARAPOREVALA SONS & CO, 

190, Hornby Road, BOMBAY. 

1924 . , 




List of Books referred to in the Treatise, with the 
abbreviations used therefor. 

Agnosticism, by Flint, William Blackwood, 1902, 

Aitoreya Aranyaka (abbro. Ait. Aran.) and Shankaracharya’s gloss thereon, 

,, ,, Translation : Sacred Books of the East, Vol, 1, Max Muller, 

Clarenden Press. 

Aitereya Upanishad (Ait. Up.) Text, Anandashrama Sanskrit Series, No. 11, 
Anandashrama Press, Poona, 1889. 

,, ,, Translation : The Twelve Principal Upanishads, Theosophical 

Publication, by Tookaram Tatya, Joint Stock Printing 
Press, Bombay, 1891. 

Ananda Lahari, of Shankaracharya, 

Ancient Religion and Modern Thought (Ane. Rel. Mod.Th.), by W. S. Lilly, 
Chapman & Hall, 3rd Edition. 

Anti-theistic Theories (Anti. Theo.), by Flint, Baird Lecture for 1877, William 
Blackwood, 5th Edition. 

Aristotle, by Watson. 

Aspects of the Vedanta, Natesan & Co., Madras, 

Atma-anatma-Viveka, by Shankaracharya. 

Attna-Bodha, by Shankaracharya. 

Dr, Ballantyne’s Works. 

Berkeley, Philosophical Classics for English Readers Series, William Blackwood, 
1881, reprint, 1890. 

BhagavatGita (Bhag. Git.), Sanskrit Text. 

,, ,, Shankaiftcharya’s gloss thereon, translated by A. Mahadeva 

Skastri, Thompson & Co., Madras, 1897. 

,, ,, Translation, by Annie Besant. 

,, „ Metrical Translation, by K. T. Telang, Atmaram Sagoon, Bombay, 

1875. 

,, „ Bhanu’s Marathi rendering, in 6 Vols., Indira Press, Poona. 

,, „ Manilal Dvivedi’s Gujerathi Translation, Tatwa Vivechaka Press, 

Bombay, 1894, 

„ ,, by Barnett, Dent, London. 

„ „ by Thomson. 



ii 


Bribad-aranyaka-Upanishad (Brihad. Up.), Text, Anandashrama Sanskrit Scrief, 

No. 15, Anandashrama Press, Poona, 1891. 

,, ,, ,, Translation, Sacred Books of the East Series, Vol. 

XV, Max Muller, Clarendon Press, 1884. 

,, ,, ,, Translation, by Dr. Boer, in Twelve Principal Upa- 

nishads, Theosophical Publication, by Tooka- 
ram Tatya, Joint Stock Printing Press, 
Bombay, 1891, 

Brahma Vadin, a fortnightly religious and philosophical journal, Brahma Vadin 
Press, Madras. 

Buddhism and its Christian Critics, by Paul Cams, Open Court Publishing Co., 
Chicago, 1899. 

Chapters in European History, bj r W. S. Lilly, 2 Vols., Chapman and Hall, 188G. 

Chhandogya Upanishad \Chhand. Up.) Text, Anandashrama Sanskrit Sciies, 
No. 14, Anandashrama Press, Poona, 1890. 

,, Translation, Sacred Books of the East Series, Vol. 1, 

Max Muller, Clarendon Press, 1879. 

,, Tunisia! ion by Bajendralal Mitia in “ Twelve Principal 

Cpanishads,” Theosophical Publication, by Tooka- 
ram Tatya, Joint Stock Printing Press, Bombay, 
1891. 

Chips from a Carman Workshop, bv Max Muller, 4 Vols., New Edition, Longmans, 
1894. 

Christian Mysticism, by Inge. 

Clairvoyance, by C. W. Lcadbeater, Theosophical Publishing Society, London, 2nd 
Edition, 1903. 

Concepts of Monism, by A. Worsley, Fisher Unwin. 

Counsels and Maxims, by Schopenhauer, 

,, Translation by T. Bailey Saunders, Swan Sonnenschein, 1895. 

Creed of Buddha, anonymous, Bodley Head, 1908. 

Critique of Pure Reason, by Ivant, translated by Max Muller, MacMillan, 1881. 
Critique of Practical Reason, by Kant, translated by Max Muller, McMillan, 1881. 

Divine Pedigree of Man, by T. J. Hudson, Putnam’s Sons, London, 1900. 

Ddsa Bod ha, by Ramdas, Marathi Text. 

Devi Bh gawata, Sanskrit Text. 

East and West, an English Monthly Review, published in Bombay. 

Elements of Metaphysics (“ Metaphysics”), by Deussen, MacMillan, 1894. 
Elements of Religion, by Liddon, 

Elements of the Science of Religion, by 0. P. Tiele, 2 Vols., William Blackwood, 
1897 





TABLE OF CONTENTS. 

Page 

Chap. 

i. 

The Leading Ideas of the Vedanta 

.. 1 

)> 

ii. 

The Vedanta and its Hegelian Critics 

.. 6 

,, 

hi. 

The Great Enigma 

.. 32 

,, 

IV. 

Knowing and being 

.. 51 


V. 

Tat-Twam-Asi and Western Thought 

.. 74 

a 

VI. 

Pantheism and the Vedanta . . 

.. 98 

ft 

VII. 

The Ethics of the Vedanta 

.. Ill 

a 

VIII. 

Indian Asceticism 

.. 132 

)) 

IX. 

Mysticism 

.. 150 

t } 

X. 

Avidya : Nescience 

.. 174 


XI. 

Sat-Asat (being and not-being.) 

.. 183 




ii Preface. 

was one of the best systems, if not the best, which could be 
made the basis of universal religion for civilised com- 
munities. 

The philosophy of the Vedanta has been expounded by 
European and Indian scholars, both before and since the 
author wrote these essays. But he has not treated the 
Vedanta as a philosophy, so much as a scheme of practical 
life. The difficulties he seeks to answer are those felt by 
the modern educated man in applying the principles of the 
Vedanta to the personal, social and national problems by 
which he is confronted. Religious teachers like Swami 
Vivekananda have made the Vedanta the basis of a new and 
expansive Hinduism, in contrast to the rigid system of caste 
and custom, which it has come to mean in the eyes of the 
vast majority of those who go by the name of Hindus. 
This development of the Vedanta or its presentation as a 
philosophy would seem to have had less attraction for the 
author than its utility as a scheme of life. 

Readers of these pages will not fail to be impressed by 
the wide reading and catholic sympathies to which they 
bear testimony, in the spirit of the ancient Gdyatri, the 
noblest prayer that the human spirit has conceived. The 
author had a mind open to the light from whatever quarter 
it came. Amid the demands of a highly crowded life, social 
and professional, he managed to find time for his studies 
in the realm of philosophy and religion, and for giving the 
results of those studies to the public from time to time, as 
the following pages show. 


M. R. JAYAKAR. 



PREFACE. 


I have to apologize to the public for not having issued 
this volume on the Vedanta Philosophy much earlier. It 
consists of ten papers, bearing on different aspects of the 
Vedanta, which the author, my maternal grandfather, the 
late Rao Bahadur Vasudeo Jagannath Kirtikar, contributed 
to the “ East and West ” and the “ Indian Review”, during 
a period of five years from 1904 to 1909. The introductory 
chapter entitled “The Leading Ideas of Vedanta ” contains 
a categorical statement of the contents of that philosophy, 
as the author understood it. The Rao Bahadur died in 
August, 1911, before he could carry out completely the scheme 
which he has outlined in the introductory chapter. I have 
endeavoured, with my limited knowledge of the subject, to 
elucidate by means of foot-notes those passages in the essays 
which seemed to me to require an explanation. 

The object of the author was, as he says in the intro- 
ductory chapter, to expound the Vedanta in a language 
familiar to modern European thought, in order to remove 
certain misconceptions regarding some of its essential doc- 
trines. He profoundly believed that the Vedanta was a 
system not only of thought but also of life. In his own 
life, he earnestly sought to fulfil scrupulously the duties, 
which, to usfe his own words, the Vedanta enjoins with refe- 
rence to mans relations to himself, to his kith and kin, to 
his community, to his country, to the whole of mankind, 
nay, to the entire animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms 
as parts of on$ organism. It was, therefore, not merely 
from intellectual conviction, but from practical experienc 

1 ' ”’e his own words agai 



iii 


Esoteric Christianity, by Annie Besant, Theosopliical Publishing Society, London 

1901. 

Essays on the Religion of the Hindus, by Wilson. 

Evolution of Theology in the Greek Philosophers (Evol. Gr. Th.),by Edward Caiid , 
Gifford Lectures for 1901 and 1902, 2 Vols., J. MacLehosc, Glasgow, 1904. 

Evolution of Religion (Evol. Rel.), by Edward Caiid, 2 Vols., J. MacLehosc, Glas- 
gow, 3rd Edition, 1899. 


Fichte, by Robert Adamson, Philosophical Classics for English Readers Series, 
William Blackwood, 1881, reprint, 1893. 

First Principles (First Prin,), by Herbert Spencer, Williams and Norgate, 5th 
Edition, 1887. 

Future Life, by Hudson, 


Lectures on Greek Philosophy (Gr. Phil.), by Ferrier, Blackwood, New Edition. 

The Great Enigma, by W. S. Lilly, John Murray, 2nd Edition. 

An Examination of Sir William Hamilton’s Philosophy (Mill’s Hamilton), by John 
Stuart Mill, Longmans, 1889, 

Handbook of the History of Philosophy (Hist. Phil.), by A. Schwegler, Olivei and 
Boyd, Edin burgh, 14th Edition. 

Hatha Pradipika, Sanskrit Text. 

Hegel, by Edward Caird, Philosophical Classics for English Readers Series, William 
Blackwood, 1883, reprint, 189G. 

Hegolianism and Personality, by Andrew Seth, William Blackwood, 2nd Edition, 
1893. 

llibbert Journal, a quarterly Review of Religion, Theology and Philosophy, edited 
by L. P. Jacks and G. Dawes Hicks, Williams and Norgate, London. 

Hibbert Lectures for 1893 by Count G. D. Alviella, Williams and Norgate, 1 897. 

,, ,, by C. B. Upton, Williams and Norgate, 1897. 

General Sketch of tho History of Pantheism (Hist. Panth.), Anonymous, 2 Vols., 
Samuel Deacon, 1879. 

Biographical History of Philosophy (Hist. Phil.), by G. H. Lewis, Routledge, 1897. 

History of Philosophy (Hist. Phil.), by Weber, Longmans, 189G. 

History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, by Max Muller, Williams and Norgate, 1859. 

India, what can it teach us, by Max Muller, Longmans, 1883. 

Indian Review, monthly Magazine, published by Nateson & Co., Madras. 

Indian Thought, a quarterly, devoted to Sanskrit Literature, edited by Thibaut 
and Ganganatha Jha, Allahabad . 

In the Sanctuary, by Van Der Naillen, Fenno, New York, 1895. 



iv 


Tsha Upan\ehad (Ish. Up.) Sanskrit Text-, Anand ashram a Sanskrit Series, No. 5, 
Anandashrama Press, Poona, 1888. 

,, Translation, Sacred Books of tho East Series, Vol. I, Max Muller, 

Clarendon Press, 1879. 

,, Translation, by Roer, in “ Twelve Principal Upanishads,” Tlieoso- 

13hical Publication, by Tookaram Tatya, Joint Stock Print- 
ing Press, Bombay, i891. 

Jivan Mukti Viveka, by Shankaracharya, Text, Anandashrama Sanskrit Series, 
No, 20, Anandashrama Press, Poona, 1890. 

,, Translation, by M. Dvivedi, Theosophical Publication, by 

Tookaram Tatya, Bombay, 1897. 

Kant’s System, Madras Edition. 

Karma, by Annie Besant, Theosophical Manual No. 4. 

Katha Upanishad (Kath. Up.), Text, Anandashrama Sanskrit Series, No. 7, 
Anandashrama Press, Poona, 1889. 

,, Translation, Sacred Books of the East Series, Vol. 15, Max 

Muller, Clarenden Press, 1884. 

„ Translation, by Roer, in “ Twelve Principal Upanishads, 5 

Theosophical Publication, by Tookaram Tatya, Joint 
Stock Press, Bombay, 1891. 

Kaushitaki Upanishad (Kaush. Up.), Text, Anandashrama Sanskrit Series, No. 29, 
p. 113, Anandashrama Pi ess, Poona, 1895. 

,, Translation, Sacred Books of the East Series, Vol. 1, Max 

Muller, Clarendon Press, 1879. 

„ Translation, by Cowell, in Twelve Principal Upanishads, 

Theosophical Publication, by Tookaram Tatya, Joint 
Stock Press, Bombay, 1891. 

Kena Upanishad (Ken. Up.), Text, Anandashrama Sanskrit Series, No. 6, Anand* 
ashrama Press, Poona, 1888. 

„ Translation, Sacred Books of tho East Series, Vol. I, p. 147, 

Max Muller, Clarenden Press, 1879. 

„ Translation, by Roer, in “ Twelve Principal Upanishads,” 

Theosophical Publication, by Tookaram Tatya, Joint 
Stock Press, Bombay, 1891. 

Knowing and Being, by Veitch, 

Lakshmi Tantra, Sanskrit Text, 

The Law of Psychic Phenomena, by T. J. Hudson, Putnam’s Sons, 1892. 

Lectures, by Pfleiderer. 

Life, Light and Love, by Inge, Methuen, 1904. 

Limits of Religious Thought, by Oalderwood. 

Logic of Hegel (Hegel’s Logic), by Wallace, Clarenden Press, New Edition. 

Mah&bhdrat, Sanskrit Text, and Marathi Translation, published by Chiplunkar 
k Co., Jagut Hitechhu Press, Poona, Shake, 1831. 



V 


Mdndukya Upanishad (Mand. Up.), Text, Anandashrama Sanskrit Series, No. 10, 
Anandashrama Press, Poona, 1900. 

„ Translation, by Roer, in Twelve Principal Upanishads, 

Theosophical Publication, by Tookaram Tatya, Joint 
Stock Press, Bombay, 1891. 

,, Translation by Manilal Dvivcdi, Theosophical Publica- 

tion, by Tookaram Tatya, Bombay, 1894. 

Manu Smriti, Text witli Marathi Translation, by J. M. Gurjar, Nirnaya S&gar 
Press, Bombay, 1877. 

,, Translation, Sacred Books of the East Series, Vol. 25, Max Muller, 
Clarenden Press, 1886. 

Markandeya Purana, Sanskrit Text. 

Institutes of Metaphysics (Met.), by Perrier. 

Muirs Sanskrit Text, 5 Vols., Trubner and Co., London, 1872. 

Mundaka Upanishad (Mund. Up.), Text, Anandashrama Sanskrit Series, No. 9, 
Anandashrama Press, Poona, 1889. 

,, Translation, Sacred Books of the East SerieB, Vol. 15, Max 

Muller, Clarenden Press, 1884. 

,, Translation, by Roer, in “ Twelve Principal Upanishads, ” 

Theosophical Publication, by Tookaram Tatya, Joint 
Stock Press, Bombay. 

Mystic Masonry, by Buck, Robert Clerk, Cincinnati, 1904. 

Natural Religion, by Max Muller, Gifford Lectures for 1888, Longmans, 1892. 
The New Testament. 

Noire’s Works. 

Notes on the Margins, by Cliff erd Harrison, George Redway, 1897. 

Lectures on the Origin and Growth of Religion (Orig. Rel.), by Max Muller, Long- 
mans, 

Outlinos of tho History of Greek Philosophy, by Zeller, Longmans, 1901. 

Outlino of Philosophy (Out. Phil.), by Watson, J. MacLohose, Glasgow, 3rd Edition, 
1901. 

Pancha I)asi, Sanskrit Text and Marathi Translation by Baba Garde, published by 
Gondhalekar, Jagat-Hitechhu Press, Poona, 1888. 

Tho Pandit (Magazine). 

Patanjali Yoga Sutras, Text and Translation, Theosophical Society’s Publication, 
Subodha Prakash Press, Bombay, 2nd Edition, 1885. 

,, Translation, by Manilal Dvivedi, “ Yoga Sutras,” pub- 

lished by Tookaram Tatya, Theosophical Society’s 
Publication, Tatwa Vivechaka Press, Bombay, 1890. 

,, Translation, by Ragendra Lai Mitra, published by the 

Asiatic Society of Bengal, Baptist Mission Press, 
Calcutta, 1883. 

,, Translation, “ Yoga Darsana,” by Ganginath Jha, Theoso- 

phical Society’s Publication, by Rajaram Tookaram 
Tatya, Tatwa Vivechaka Press, Bombay, 1907. 



VI 


Pathway to Reality (“ Pathway ”), by Lord Haldane, Gifford Lectures, for 1902-3, 
2 Vols., Murray, 1903. 

Philosophy of T. H. Green (“ Green”), by Fail-brother, Methuen, 2nd Edition, 
1900. 

Philosophy of Herbert Spencer, by W. H. Hudson, Chapman and Hall, 2nd Edi- 
tion, 1897, 

Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion (Introd, Phil. Rel.), by J. Caird, Mac- 
Lehose, Glasgow, New Edition, 1901. 

Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion (Phil. Rel.), by Hegel, 3 Vols., Kegan, 
Paul, 1895. 

Outlines of a Philosophy of Religion (Phil. Rel.), by H. Lotzc, Swan Sonnenschein, 
New York, 1892. 

Philosophy of Religion (Phil. Rel.), by Pfleiderer, 4 Vols., Williams and Norgato, 
1887. 

Philosophy of tho Upanisliads (Phil. Up.), by Paul Deussen, T. & T. Clerk, Edin- 
burgh, 1906, 

,, ,, by Gough, Kegan Paul, 3rd Edition, 1903, 

Prasna Upanishad (Prasn. Up.), Text, Anandashrama Sanskrit Series, No. 8, 

Anandashrama Press, Poona, 1889. 

,, Translation of text and of Shankar&charya’s gloss thereon, 

Madras Edition. 

,, Translation, Sacred Books of the East Series, Vol. 15, Max 

Muller, Clarenden Press, 1884. 

,, Translation, by Rocr, in “ Twelvo Principal Upanishads,” 

Theosophical Society’s Publication, by Tookaram Tatya, 
Joint Stock Press, Bombay, 1891. 

Psychology, by Herbert Spencer, 2 Vols., Williams and Norgate, 3rd Edition, 1890. 


R&ja Yoga, by Vivekananda, Longmans, 4th Edition, 1897. 

Religion, a dialogue and other essays, by Schopenhauer Swan Sonnenschoin, 4th 
Edition. 

Rig Veda Sanhita, Text published by Max Muller, Honry Frowde, Oxford Univer- 
sity Press Warehouse, London, 1890. 

,, Translation, by Wilson. 

,, Translation, by Griffiths. 

Ruysbroek’s Works. 

Sacred Books of the East (S. B. E.), Vols. 34 & 38, Thibaut’s Translation of Shan- 
kara Bhashya. 

S&dhana, by Rabindranath Tagore, MacMillan, London. 

Sama Veda, Arka Parva, Sanskrit Text, 

S&nkhya Karika, translated by Colebrooke, Theosophical Society’s Publication, 
by Tookaram Tatya, Bombay, 1887. 



vii 

Sarva Darshana Sangraha (Sarv. Dar. Sang.), Text, Anandashrama Sanskrit 

Series, No. 51, Anandashrama Press, Poona, 1900. 

,, Translation, by Cowell and Gough, Kegan Paul, 2nd 

Edition, 1894. 

Scientific Demonstration of Eutuie State (Scicn. Dom. Fut. St.), by Hudson. 

Sh&nkara Bhashya (Sh. Bh.), Text, Anandashrama Sanskrit Series, No, 21, 
Anandashrama Press, Poona, 1890. 

,, Translation, by Thibaut, Sacred Books of the East Series, 

Vols. 34 and 38, Max Muller, Clarenden Press, 1890 and 
1896. 

Shatapntha Brahmana (Shatap. Brail,), Sanskrit Text. 

Shri Bhashya of Ram&nujacharya, Sanskrit Text. 

,, ,, Translation, by Rangileharya and Varadaraga, 

Brahma Vadin Press, Madras, 1899. 

,, ,, Translation, by Thibaut, Sacred Books of the 

East Series, Vol. 1 8, Max Muller, Clarenden 
Press, 1904. 


Siddb&nta Muktavali, Sanskrit Text. 

Six Systems of Indian Philosophy (Six Syst. Ind. Phil.), by Max Muller, Long- 
mans, 1899. 

Spinoza by J. Oaird. 

Svetasvatara Upanishad (Svet. Up.), Text, Anandashrama Sanskiit Series, No. 17, 
Anandashrama Press, Toona, 1890. 

,, Translation, Sacred Books of the East Series, Vol. 15, 

Max Muller, Clarenden Press, 1884. 

, , Translation, by Roer, in 44 Twelve Princpal Upanishads,” 

Theosophical Publication, by Tookaram Tatya, Joint 
Stock Press, Bombay, 1891. 

Sw&tma Nirupana, by Shankar&charya, Sanskrit Text. 

Tailtiriya Upanishad (Tailt. Up.), Text, Anandashrama Sanskrit Scries, Noe. 12, 
13, Anandashrama Press, Poona, 1889. 

„ Translation, by A. Mahadeva Shastri, Mysore, 1903. 

,, Translation, Sacred Books of the East Series, Vol. 15, Max 

Muller, Clarenden Press, 1384. 

,, Translation, by Roer, in “Twelve Principal Upanishads/' 

Theosophical Publication, by Tookaram Tatya, Joint 
Stock Press, Bombay, 1891, 

Tatwa Bodha, by Shankar&ch&rya, Sanskrit Text. 

Theism, by Flint, Blackwood, 8th Edition. 

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Theosophy or Psychological Religion (Theosophy), by Max Muller, Gifford Lectures 
for 1892, Longmans, 1893, 

Theosophical Review, Monthly Magazine, edited by G. R. S. Mead and Annie 
Besant, Theosophical Publishing Society, London. 



Upanishads, Translation, Sacred Books of the East Series, Vols. 1 and 15, Max 
Muller, Clarendon Press, 1879, 1884, 

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Joint Stock Press, Bombay, 1891, 

University Sermons, by J. Caird, MacLehose, Glasgow, 1899. 

The Unknown, by 0. Flammarion, Harper, 1900. 

V&kya Sudha, by Shankar&ch&rya, Sanskrit Text. 

Varieties of Religious Experience (Var. Rcl. Exp.), by William James, Longmans 
7th Edition. 

Vedanta Paribhashd (Ved, Paiibh.), Sanskrit Toxt. 

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,, Translation, by Jacob, Kegan Paul, 3rd Edition, 1891. 

Vedanta Sutras (Ved. Sutr.), Text, Anandashrama Sanskrit Series, No. 21, parts 1 
and 2, Anandashrama Press, Poona, 1890. 

„ Translation by Thibaut, Sacred Books of tho East Series, Vols. 34 

and 38, Max Muller, Clarenden Press, 1890, 189G. 

Viveka chud&mani, by Shankar&ch&rya, Sanskrit Text. 

Naturalism and Agnosticism by Ward (Ward), Gifford Lectures for 1896-1898, 
2 Vols., Adam and Charles Black, 2nd Edition. 

What All the World’s a-seeking, by R. W. Trine, Gay and Bird, London. 2nd 
Edition, 1900. 



CHAPTER 1. 


THE LEADING IDEAS OF THE VEDANTA. 

The Indian Vedanta (which term includes the Sdnkhya and the Yoga 
systems) had, long before the beginning of the Christian era, reached 
a stage of development, which should have, ere this, received its due 
share of appreciation at the hands of European thinkers, and the 
fact should have been long ago realised that it was one of the best 
systems, if not the best, which could be made the basis of a universal 
religion for civilized communities. 

But, unfortunately, there is considerable misconception as to its 
true character — whether as Philosophy or as Religion. The appar- 
ently inconsistent utterances in the Upanishads, the difficulty of 
understanding the terminology of the ancient writers and of following 
with patience the dialectics used by them, the comparative indiffer- 
ence of European thinkers, as a class, to any thing that is Indian — 
all these have more or less contributed to make the Vedanta as 
unattractive as it is difficult. 

Nor is this all. I find that the almost organic theological bias of 
most of the European writers on Philosophy and Religion whom I 
have had occasion to consult, and of most of the Christian Mis- 
sionaries who come here on the special mission of evangelising India, 
have formed a very formidable impediment to a just and correct 
appreciation of the Indian systems of Philosophy. 

To remove the misconceptions that at present prevail in respect 
of some of its essential doctrines, it is necessary to expound the Ve- 
danta in a language familiar to modem European thought, and to 
show how far it finds confirmation in parallel currents of Western 
thought — ancient and modern — and likewise in the discoveries of 
modern science. 

With this view, the leading ideas of the Veddnta may thus be for- 
mulated at the outset: — 
l 



2 


THE LEADING IDEAS OF THE VEDaNTA. 


[CHAP. I. 


1 . That there is only one Ultimate Reality, called the Brahman 
( from which the universe proceeds. It is self-existent and 
it alone is (sat), and, not being originated, it is Eternal and Real. All 
else, apparently as being the effects of causes, is a-sat , unreal, because 
it was not before becoming, and will not be, when its form disappears ; 
it sometimes is and sometimes is not. It is subject to the conditions 
of Time, Place, and Causation. It is called sansara ( ubh ), implying 
motion and change. 

2. Brahman is All-Pervading. There is no object without Brahman 
as its substratum ; divorced from Brahman the object is a non-entity. 
No object has accordingly any independent existence, that is, inde- 
pendent of or apart from Brahman. Its reality is only relative and 
phenomenal. 

3. While Brahman is thus immanent, it is also transcendent. To 
use the language of metaphor, only a portion of the Brahmic sphere, 
so to speak, is occupied by the visible universe. 1 

4. Brahman is All-Intelligence (chit), infinite in its nature and 
therefore Eternal. 2 

5. It is also All-Bliss (dnand). 

6. The sat, chit, and dnand, referred to above, are, by rigorous 
monists like Shankar Acharya, considered to be the constitutive essence 
of Brahman and not its attributes, for, say they, that being Eternal 
and changeless it cannot have any attributes. Others, like Ramanu- 
ja, say that Brahman is not without the attributes of Goodness, 
Justice, Mercy, &c. 3 

7. Though Brahman is One, it has also become many by its own 
Will ; it is thus also many, when viewed from the standpoint of the 
universe. 

8. The universe is born from Brahman, that is, it is brought into 
being either by the Word (Logos, Thought and Will) or Emanation 
or Evolution. It lives in Brahman, and in the fulness of time is dis- 

1 See Sh. Bh. on Ved. Sutr. II. 

I. 27 (S.B.E., Vol. 34, p. 350). 

2 Cf. the “ Absolute Mind ” of the 
Hegelian System. 

# Rigorous monists do not in reality 
deny these attributes to the Supreme 


Principle, but their rigorous monism 
has logically led them to ascribe these 
attributes to Brahman , in its associa- 
tion with its own power, Mdyd, in 
which aspect, Brahman is a Personal 
God. 



CHAP. I.] 


THE LEADING IDEAS OP THE VEDANTA. 


3 


solved in Brahman. In other words, Brahman is the root of the uni- 
verse, and all creatures and objects in the universe live in Brahman , 
and in the end find their rest, too, in Brahman. 

Brahman is thus that in which we “ live and move and have our 
being.” The universe ever remains one with Brahman , and is never 
cognised apart from it. 

9. Rigorous monists say that the universe is the product of a 
power called mdya, in its association with Brahman , to. which it belongs, 
and with which it is ever inseparably connected. Others, ignoring 
this intermediate power, consider Brahman itself as the substantial 
and operative cause of the universe. 

10. Rigorous monists, like Shankar, say that individual souls are 
identical with Brahman 1 ; others, like Ramanuja, posit the indivi- 
duality of the souls, but admit that they are the modes ( Prak&r&h ) 
of Brahman and are eternal with it. 

11. Brahman is not the author of Sin or Evil. All that is of man’s 
making, and enters the world when man violates the higher laws 
of his being. 

12. Every embodied existence with its environment is the result 
of one’s own past Karmq? — which has become ripe for fruition and 
which is called prdrabdha. This cannot be avoided, but must be 
worked out. 

But as regards the Karma, which is not yet ripe for fruition and which 
is called Sanchitam , it is in the power of man to destroy by good deeds 
its evil effects which are to arise in future, and thus accelerate the 
perfection which is his goal. 

13. The Vedanta thus recognises the doctrine of the Freedom 
of the Will. It says that man’s happiness and misery entirely depend 
on himself. He himself is the “ architect of his own fortune.” 

14. His life on earth is apparently one of probation and difficulties, 
since, in his ignorance, he at first attaches himself to his bodily exis- 
tence, regards that as his real life, and seeks to find pleasure and 

1 Cf. Haldane’s * Pathway to Reality ' * in a single subject of knowl edge.’ 

Vol. 2, p. 169. “ The central doctrine of 2 Karma in the V eddnta includes 

Atonement illustrates this, for it implies both an( j deed, 

the potential identity of man and God 



4 


THE LEADING IDEAS OF THE VEDANTA. 


[CHAP. I. 


happiness in “ things earthly.” In this state, his actions are egoistic 
and selfish. 

15. The Veddnta accordingly lays down rules for the social, moral, 
and spiritual development of man, and inculcates the performance 
of duties, by which, with enlightenment, he gradually surrenders his 
lower self, and lives a larger and larger self, so as ultimately to take 
within his Self all the other Selves, and leave none outside. 

16. The duties which the Veddnta enjoins have reference to man’s 
relations to himself, to his kith and kin, to his community, to his 
country, to the whole of mankind, nay to the entire animal, vegetable 
and mineral kingdoms, as parts of one organism. 

17. The Veddnta says that these duties must be performed as 
duties — without attachment or hope of reward, their performance 
must be thoroughly disinterested. 

18. The Karma thus enjoined necessarily tends to the purification 
of one’s heart, the ennobling of one’s character, the acquisition of 
higher powers, by which one is capable of realising that the indivi- 
dual self is not merely related to Brahman , but is identical with 
it. 

19. True salvation consists in a complete realisation of this identity. 

20. Until this highest state of spiritual perfection is attained , until 
this sense of “ I ” and “ Thou ”, “ mine ” and “ thine ” has com- 
pletely disappeared , man has no right to deny the reality of the universe . 
Until then, he is bound to recognise the three-fold distinction of God, 
Man and the Universe, and to attend to his duties, social, political, 
moral and religious. To him, the world is not till then illusory ; nor 
is the relation in which he stands to it, and all else in it an illusion. 

It is only when the sense of individual and personal egohood 
{ Ahankritih ) has become completely extinct, and the great 

truth Tat-twam-asi (that thou art) fully realised by self -experience, 
that the true character of the Supreme Self, the identity of the In- 
dividual Self with that Self, and the illusoriness of the world as a 
self -subsisting externality become intelligible and acquire a meaning. 

Many European thinkers consider this last position to be absolu- 
tely inconceivable. No doubt, with ordinary humanity, it is 
so ; for, with the egohood such as we ordinarily have with the 



CHAP. I.] THE LEADING IDEAS OP THE VEDaNTA. 


5 


distinction of the ego and the non-ego fully alive and staring us in the 
face, it is impossible to realise the truth of this position. It belongs 
to a different plane of thought ; and if we cannot reach that plane or 
will not endeavour to reach it, our attitude should be to let it alone. 
But it is unphilosophical to comment upon it from the plane which 
we occupy, and pronounce it as absurd and nonsensical. Those 
who can conceive the possibility of its truth, and those who have 
realised it to themselves, say that it is impossible to discern the highest 
spiritual truths with “ the eyes of the flesh.” 1 

1 The author had refrained from citing to a discussion of the propositions here 
hero any authorities in support of the formulated, which unfortunately he did 
several propositions above formulated. not live to do. — ED. 

Ho had reserved doing so till he came 



CHAPTER II. 


THE VEDaNTA AND ITS HEGELIAN CRITICS . 1 

Professor Dvivedi, in his introduction to the Mandukya Upanishad 2 , 
observes that the Indian advaita or Monism is — 

“Nothing less than the synthesis of thought underlying the different 
teachings of Indian Schools, and is truly that universal religion or 
philosophy which embraces, within the ample folds of absolute unity, 
the infinite variety of all shades of thinking .... India has 
given to humanity the main outline at least of the whole of the 
philosophy and religion of the world. This may appear to my western 
readers an error of judgment, but it is no little consolation that in 
this instance, at least, I err in good company.” 

This is, indeed, a bold assertion and the question is whether it is 
possible to establish this position. It is no doubt true that eminent 
thinkers like Sir William Jones, Mr. Colebrooke, Professor H. H. 
Wilson, Schopenhauer, and Professor Max Muller have spoken highly 
of the Indian systems of philosophy. Indeed, Schopenhauer 
says : — 

“From every sentence (oftheUpanisbadsof Veddnta) deep, original, 
and sublime thoughts arise, and the whole is pervaded by a high and 

holy and earnest spirit In the whole world there is 

no study so beneficial and so elevating as that of the Upanishads 
(the Veddnta). It has been the solace of my life — it will be the solace 
of my death. They are products of the highest wisdom ... It 
is destined sooner or later to become the faith of the people.” 

Professor Max Muller, too, in his Lectures at the University of 
Cambridge, spoke as follows : — 

“If I were asked under what sky the human mind has mostly deve- 
loped some of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered on the 

i This article originally appeared in 559 and 049—659. 

the “East and West, 1904, pp. 549— » p. ii. 



OHAP. II.] THE VEDaNTA AND ITS HEGELIAN CRITICS. 7 

greatest problems of life, and has found solutions of some of them 
which will deserve the attention even of those who have studied Plato 
and Kant — I should point to India. And if I were to ask myself 
from what literature we, here in Europe, we who have been nurtured 
almost exclusively on the thought of "Greeks and Romans, and of one 
Semitic race, the Jewish, may draw that corrective which is most 
wanted in order to make our inner life more perfect, more compre- 
hensive, more universal, in fact, more truly human — a life not for 
this life only, but a transfigured and eternal life — again I should point 
to India .” 1 

But, with all such credentials the advocates of the Indian advaita 
must not forget that there are other eminent thinkers in Europe, 
themselves idealists, who have urged serious objections to the Indian 
systems ; and it is impossible to expect any reasoned acceptance of 
those systems by them, until those objections are satisfactorily an- 
swered. An attempt therefore ought to be made in this direction, 
without any preconceived bias in favour of any particular theory 
or dogma. 

It may be asserted with confidence that the Vedanta is both a Phi- 
losophy and a Religion. In its search for Unity, it has succeeded in 
finding one Ultimate Reality as the basis of our existence, in which 
we find “ at once an adequate object of affection and a sufficient 
aim for our practical endeavours.” The Indian Vedanta has laid such 
a scheme for practical conduct, founded on this necessary and funda- 
mental truth, that it satisfies the social, moral, and spiritual needs 
of men of every grade. While recognising the existence of only one 
Reality and showing man’s relation to that Reality, it prescribes his 
duties to himself, to his kith and kin, to his own community, to the 
whole of humanity, nay, to the entire animal, vegetable and mineral 
kingdoms, thus insisting upon his living a larger and larger self, to 
the utter extinction, eventually, of his own individual lower self, 
and thus ultimately seeking union with that one Reality. In this 
process of gradual evolution and development, it holds out a hope 
of eternal beatitude and peace to the pure and righteous, and pro- 
mises salvation even to the sinful, after their period of probation 
is over. 


1 “ India ; What Can It Teach Us 99 1 p. 6. 



8 THE VEDANTA AND ITS HEGIgJpIAN CRITICS. [CHAP. II. 

But the objections urged against the Indian Veddnta , stated in 
general terms, are that the Brahma of this system is an empty ab- 
straction, an infinite blank, that the Veddnta is a system of Acosmism, 
Antitheistic Pantheism, and its ethics is the negative ethics of an 
Asceticism which renounces the world and withdraws from it as from 
an empty illusion. 

Objections like lhese would be intelligible, if taken by that class of 
philosophers, who are influenced by the Cartesian dualism of spirit and 
matter, and who assign an equal and independent reality to both, con- 
necting the two by the arbitrary supposition of an outside God creating 
out of nothing. But, curiously enough, such objections come also from 
those who themselves are “ Absolute Idealists.” I mean those whose 
thoughts are greatly influenced by Hegelianism, which is known as a 
system of Absolute Idealism, and which virtually is a good deal akin 
to the Indian Veddnta , though, perhaps, only up to a certain point. 

At present I shall deal only with the notion of the Indian Brahma 
being an empty abstraction or an infinite blank . 1 

Though it is generally believed that Hegel’s meaning “ cannot be 
wrung from him by any amount of mere reading,” and though it is 
said that “ he requires to be distilled . . . to an extent which 

is unparalleled/’ I must, at the outset, try to state what I under- 
stand to be his view of the universe and what he himself understands 
by an empty or false abstraction. 

The Hegelian view of the universe is that it is an organism of which 
Man, Nature and God are the necessary components, and that none 
of these three elements can be conceived as existing by itself and for 
itself. You cannot conceive Mind without Nature, or Nature without 
Mind ; that though, on a lower plane, there is recognised the antithesis 
between the Ego and the Non-Ego — that is, between spirit and matter, 
the Ego can transcend the Non-Ego and reconcile itself in God, in 
whom, while the antithesis disappears, the Ego and the Non-Ego 
do not lose their individuality, and the ground of such capacity is the 
fact that there is intelligence or reason in all the three — there is in- 
telligence in man, intelligence in Nature, and intelligence, of course, 
m God. This is the doctrine of Unity in Variety. 

1 Cf. an answer to this charge in pp. 16 — 18 : See the passage quoted 
Dr. Rabindra Nath Tagores “ Sadhana,” below in another connexion. — ED. 



CHAP. II. ] THE VEDANTA AND ITS HEGELIAN CRITICS. 9 

Hegel’s idea of an empty abstraction may be given almost in his 
own words : — 

“ Where God is defined to be ‘ the most real of beings, in which 
negation forms no part,’ it is ‘ the abstract of all positivity or real- 
ity to the exclusion of all negation,’ and is the ‘ very opposite of 
what it ought to be and of what [the] understanding supposes it to be.’ 
Instead of being rich and full above all measure, it is so narrowly con- 
ceived that it is, on the contrary, extremely poor and altogether empty. 
It is with reason that the heart craves a concrete body of truth, but 
without definite feature, that is without negation contained in the 
notion, there can only be an abstraction. When the notion of God 
is apprehended only as that of the abstract or most real being, 
God is, as it were, relegated to another world beyond ; and to 
speak of knowledge of Him would be meaningless. Where there 
is no definite quality, knowledge is impossible. Mere light is Mere 
darkness .” 1 

Hegel’s idea of the ultimate Reality, as I understand it, is that it 
is incomplete and one-sided without its negation. In fact, in one place 
he has given expression to a paradox, that Absolute Being and Ab- 
solute Naught are the same. 

“Being, as Being, is nothing fixed or definite ; it yields to a dialectic 
and sinks into its opposite, which also taken immediately is nothing 
[saying that God is only the supreme Being and nothing more is de- 
claring Him to be so negatively also]. The mere Being, as it is mere 
abstraction, is, therefore, the absolutely negative. To prevent 
one nullifying the other, man must first discover some fixed predicate 
for Being, to mark it off from Nothing ; this of necessity leads to the 
onward movement, and gives to Being a ‘ true or concrete signifi- 
cance [and this significance consists in the idea of Becoming], Be- 
coming is the unity of Being and Nothing.’ The unity has to be 
conceived in the diversity, which is all the while present and explicit. 
To become is the true expression for the resultant of i to be ’ and 
* not to be.’ Becoming is the first concrete thought and therefore 
the first notion, whereas Being and Naught are empty abstractions. 
In Being, then, we have Nothing, and in Nothing [we have] Being ; 
but this Being, which does not lose itself in Nothing, is Becoming 


‘Hegel’s Logic ’ by Wallace, p. 74. 



10 


THE VEDaNTA AND ITS HEGELIAN CRITICS. [CHAP. II. 


. . . Becoming is only the explicit statement of what Being is in 

its truth . 1 True infinitude is the unity of the finite and infinite .” 2 

Without pausing here to consider whether it is not possible to arrive 
at the notion of the absolute in all its richness, and realise its exis- 
tence without the ratiocinative process of alternate negation and 
affirmation employed by Hegel, and without saying whether there is not 
yet beyond this a higher necessary truth — a truth not for human intel- 
ligences only, but for all possible intelligences, which alone is the 
test of a philosophic truth — I may mention that the idea of Being 
and Not-Being — Becoming being the synthesis of Being and Not- 
Being — was not unknown to the Indian systems. In fact, the whole 
of one phase of philosophic thought in the Vedanta is based upon 
this very idea. I shall have to refer to it in connection with the much 
misunderstood conceptions of Maya and Avidya , which are neither 
more nor less than this negative aspect of Being explaining the Be- 
coming. It is enough here to give some general idea and refer to one 
or two passages to show that I have not sought, in my enthusiasm for 
the past, to “ read modern thoughts into archaic writings.” 

In the Bhagavat Gita, Shri Krishna tells Arjuna : “ I am two in 
one by nature — sat and asat , self and not-self, Purusha and Prakriti , 
everlasting, but appearing and disappearing. In me there is both 
Being and Not-Being .” 3 So, too, Shankar in Mandukya Upanishad 4 : 


1 ‘ Hegel’s Logie,’ pp. 161 — 167. 

2 Hegel’s Lectures on the Philo- 
sophy of Religion, Vol. I, p. 328 : Cf. 
also Haldane’s * Pathway to Reality,’ 
Vol. 2, pp. Ill, 112. 

3 Bhag. Gita, IX. 19. 

4 i. 7. ‘ Tnrc’-frrw'}- 



also cf. Dvivedi’s M&nd. Up., p. 21. 
Cf. also ‘ Svet. Up.,* 4, 18. “ (He is) 
neither being nor not-being.” Ibid. 
5. 4. “ Two there are that in the 

Eternal Infinite Supreme Brahman 
lie hidden, knowledge ( vidyd ) and 
ignorance ( avidyd ) : Ignorance is 
fleeting, Knowledge eternal ; yet he 
who as lord ordains them is that other.” 

\ araft srsrrt fforr^r urmt m 

I Sjt SJ?<t 3 ft*!! 

T3frt : II— Mand. Up. 2. 2. 

1. “(He is) higher than that which is and 
that which is not.” Ved. Sutr. 1. 4. 15. 


“On account of the connexion (with pass- 
ages treating of Brahman , the passages 
speaking of the non-being do not inti- 
mate absolute non-existence).” And cf. 
Shankar’s commentary on the above 
Sutra (S. B. E. Vol. 34, p. 267). “ We 
have therefore to conclude that while 
the term ‘ Being ’ ordinarily denotos 
that which is differentiated by names 
and forms, the term * Non-being ’ 
denotes the same substance previous 
to its differentiation, i.e. that Brahman 
is, in a secondary sense of the word, 
called Non-being previously to the 

origination of the world the 

tenet of primitive absolute. Non-exist- 
ence is thus refuted and the doctrine 
strengthened that this world has sprung 
from that which is.” Cf. Gough’s 
‘ Phil. Up.* pp. 45, 46. “ Brahman per se 

is the principle of reality, the one and 
only being ; Self alone is, and all else 
only seems to be. This principle of 
reality, however, has been, from ever- 



CHAP. II.] THE VEDANTA AND ITS HEGELIAN CRITICS. 


11 


“This Atman ( Brahma ) is the totality of the Real and Unreal . . . 
The Unreal portion of it is that which is marked off by Avidyd [$o- 
yam alma paramdrthdparamartharupah . . . tasya aparamdrtha 
rupam avidydkritam ] . ’ ’ 

The very idea that Brahma is the Samav&yee 1 and Updddna kdrana 1 2 
the inseparable and substantial cause of the Universe, implies 
the idea of Becoming and an intimate and constant relation ( ) 

between Being and Becoming. The Indian systems, while recognis- 
ing, like the Eleatics, the One at the summit 3 of a theory of the uni- 
verse as the only One really existing, did not altogether ignore what 
obtained in the system of Heraclitus, viz., the doctrine of perpetual 
flux and motion, which is known to the Vedanta as samsriti or sansara 
— expressions denoting the universe which is begotten from Brahma , 
which moves in it and has its being in it. 

It is a great mistake to suppose that the philosophy of Becoming 
was discarded in the Indian systems. Even rigorous monists like 
Shankar insisted on the study of nature, i.e., of the philosophy of 
Becoming, without which, they said, it was impossible to attain to a 
knowledge of Being. Brahma, says he, is by itself incomprehensible 4 . 
To man, it can be known only in its synthesis with the Becoming. 
The necessity of samsdra for a correct knowledge of the Absolute 
Being and for the evolution and perfection of man is universally re- 
cognised in the Indian systems 5 . The universe, its growth and decay, 


lasting, associated with an inexplicable 
principle of unreality ; and it is from 
the fictitious union of these principles, 
the one real, the other only a self- 
feigned fiction, that the spheres and the 
migrating forms of life, the external and 
internal world, proceed.’ 

1 See Ved. Sutr. II. 1. 18 and S. 

B. E., Vol. 34, pp. 335, 336. 

9 See Ved. Sutr. I. 4, 26 and S. B. 
E., Vol. 34, p. 287. 

8 Cf. Ved. Sutr. II. 1. 14 and S. B.E., 
Vol. 34, p. 329. “ The Lord stands 
in the realm of tho phenomenal in the 
relation of a ruler to the so-called Jivas 
(individual souls) or cognitional Selfs 
(Vijn&n£tman ) ... His 

omnipotence, omniscience, &c., all de- 
pend on the limitation due to the ad- 
juncts whose Self is nescience ; while 
in reality none of these qualities belong 


to the Self, whose true nature is cleared 
by right knowledge from all adjuncts 

whatever In this manner the 

Vedanta texts declare that for him, who 
has reached the state of truth and 
reality, the whole apparent world does 
not exist.” This thought very much 
resembles what Edward Caird stated 
with reference to Hegel (p, 163). “ One 

who has seen this identity in differences 
— who has apprehended this thought, 
has already risen above the abstractions 
whose unity in differences he has seen.” 

4 Chh&nd. Up. Ill, 12. 

Cf. M&ndukya Up. Ill, 15 and 
Shankar’s Gloss on the same. Of. 
Patan. Yoga Sutra, II. 18 ; Dvivedi’s 
Trans, pp. 38, 39. “ All this evolution 

of the primordial substance, in its many 
forms, and threefold conditions, is useful 
in helping us on to final absolution, by 
full experience of the pleasure and pain 



12 


THE VEDANTA AND ITS HEGELIAN CRITICS. [CHAP. II. 


are conceptions not unfamiliar to the Indian Veddnta. While Brahma 
is the Atman or spirit, the universe which proceeds from it is the 
An&tman , Not-Being, or Becoming, of the Indian Veddnta. With 
the Veddntin the Brahma is the absolutely real (sat), and the 
universe has no reality independent of or apart from it. 

To human intelligence in one of the stages of philosophic develop* 
ment, Being and Not-Being are inseparably united in Becoming, as 
light and its shadow. This is what the Veddnta means by the 
expression chit jada granthi. 

The Indian systems, in their attempts to reach the absolute truth, 
thus took both Being and Not-Being into account, and although 
it would seem that, like the Eleatics, some rigorous monists, for rea- 
sons to be explained in the sequel, regarded these two conceptions 
as distinct 1 instead of, like Heraclitus, as two factors of one conception, 
they did not sever the two so completely as to necessitate the absolute 
denial of Not-Being ; on the contrary, recognising the Not-Being 
(Becoming) as a reality, they explained this Becoming by reference 
to Being. Everything that has come into existence is the union of 
Spirit and Non-Spirit — “ Kshetra-Kshetrajna samyogdt ,” says the 
Bhagwat Gita in xiii. 26. They did not deny all reality to the 
Universe ; they only said that it has no reality independent of and 
apart from Being ; they distinguished that Being which was universal 
principle, intelligible to all 'possible intelligences, from the other, a 
principle intelligible and real to such only as possessed senses like 
our own ; the one was a necessary truth, while the other was only 
contingent and relative. 

The Vedantic expression chit jada granthi is very significant. ' It 
means the unity of the two contraries, Being and Not-Being — the 
oneness or conciliation of Being and Not-Being. 

The Vedantic conception in this connection is that Becoming is 
only a manifestation of Being on itself, and that the connection 
between the two is that of Identity — “ tdddtmya lakshand sam - 
bandha” 2 

attendant on being entangled in it . . . 1 See, e.g., Bhag. Git. II. 16. 

The real knower is not in or of all this , gee Ve d. g utr . jl. 2, 38, S.B.E., Vol 

and therefore it is he who realizes g^ p> ^g^ 

Himself after proper knowledge.” ’ 



CHAP. IT.] THE VEDANTA AND ITS HEGELIAN CRITICS. 


13 


The sequel will show that if ever a solution of the problem of the 
Universe is possible, it is in this conception. 

But now let us see how Hegel describes the Indian Brahma. 
Ignoring, at the outset, the question as to what really is the ultimately 
necessary truth, that is, a truth for all possible intelligences and not 
for the human intelligence alone, mixing up Hindu philosophy with 
mythology and the corrupted practice of asceticism, without taking 
the pains of understanding the esoteric significance of the second or 
the principles underlying the third, he has built up a structure 
on which he bases the conclusion that Brahma is a characterless 
nothingness, an empty abstraction, a purposeless empty power, 
without wisdom and without activity— a unity into which all 
existences pass as into a dark and eternal night. The votaries of 
such a deity are described as revelling in a “ region of unbridled 
madness . 5,1 

Another Hegelian philosopher describes the Indian Brahma as “ an 
abyss of a negative infinitude .... a unity which was no principle 
of order in the manifold differences of things, but merely a gulf in 
which all difference was lost .” 2 

In the same strain, Professor Pfleiderer 3 — himself a Unitarian and 
not disposed to agree with Hegel in his vindication of the Christian 
Trinity 4 by his philosophy — describes Brahma as “ an indeter- 
minate abstract Being, which is hardly distinguished from nothing ; 
an abyss which swallows up all finite being, not as the positive ground 
which produces and maintains the finite ; it is like the cave of the 
lion into which all the footsteps lead but none lead out again.” And 
the Veddntin’s world, including the ego and its consciousness 3 is, 
according to him, “ an untrue appearance, a delusion of Mdyd” 
and the Brahmanic Pantheism “ shows itself as Acosmism and 
ultimately as absolute Illusionism.” 


A Hegel’s ‘ Phil. Eel.’ Vol. I, p. 333, 
and Vol. Ill, pp. 317—329, 

2 Edward Caird’s ‘ Evolution of Reli- 
gion,’ Vol. I, pp. 262, 263. 

3 “Lectures” I. 13—16. 

4 Perhaps it is not generally known 
in India that Hegel has attempted to 
reconcile philosophy and Christianity 
and vindicate the claim of the latter as 


a revelation; the resurrection of Jesus 
was to him an absolute historical fact. 
See Sterling’s Notes in Schwegler’s 
“ History of Philosophy,” p. 440. 

5 What would Prof. Pfleiderer say 
to the following sentence in Hegel’s 
writings “ the truth is that there is only 
one reason, one mind and that the 
mind as finite has not a real existence.” 
Haldane’s * Pathway,’ II, p. 101. 



14 


THE VEDANTA AND ITS HEGELIAN CRITICS. [CHAP. II. 


It is difficult to imagine from what source these thinkers could have 
derived their inspiration. Their description of Brahma sounds more 
like a joke than a sober and earnest statement of a philosophic view. 
It reminds one of the bitter mockery which Heine made of Kant’s 
“ Critique of Pure Reason ” or which Mr. Kirkman made of the 
philosophy of Herbert Spencer. The destructive criticism of Kant, 
according to Heine, made poor old Lampe, the servant of that eminent 
philosopher, disconsolate when he saw that his God was laid low ; 
Kant’s heart was softened, it is said, and he reflected that this would 
not do ; “ poor old Lampe must have his God ; otherwise there 
would be no happiness for him,” and out came, accordingly, the 
“ Critique of Practical Reason,” which guaranteed the existence 
of God. 1 


A similar ridicule, it is said, was sought to be thrown on the phi- 
losophy of Herbert Spencer, Mr. Kirkman professing to translate his 
definition of Evolution as 4 ‘ a change from a nohowish untalkabout- 
able allalikeness, to a somehowish and in-general-talkaboutable, 
and not-allalikeness, by continuous somethingelsifications, and stick- 
togetherations.” 2 3 

Hegel himself would apparently have had no objection to the Ve- 
dantic conception of Brahma if it was Thought and Being — Thought 
implying “ an activity which determines itself in itself ”3 ; if it was 
characterised as a “principle which moves itself to its manifestation 
or produces it.” 4 According to another Hegelian philosopher^ 
too, the modern conception of Ultimate Reality is that it must be a 
“ unity which realises itself in differences, which by its own inner 
impulse gives rise to differences, yet even maintains itself in them 
and through these differences returns upon itself.” 


But what is the Yedantic conception of Brahman but this and more? 
The description of Brahman given at the very outset of the Vedanta 
Sutras is 6 : “ Brahman is that from which the Universe proceeds ; 
it is all Intelligence and is the source of Scripture and root of all Know- 
ledge.” In another Sutra it is said that this One thought that it 


1 W. S. Lilly’s “ Enigma,” p. 277, 

3 Hudson’s ‘ Philosophy of Herbert 
Spencer,’ p. 90 ; and Spencer’s “ First 
Principles,” Appx. p. 565. 

3 See “ Phil, of Bel.” Vol. 3, pp. 


325, 326. 

4 Ibid. p. 320. 

9 J. Caird’s “ Spinoza,” p. 128. . 

6 Ved. Sutr. I., 1, 2-3, S.B.E. Vol 34, 
pp. 15-19. 



CHAP. II.] THE VEDANTA AND ITS HEGELIAN CRITICS. 15 

should become many and it became Many by its own ekshana T ; which 
may bo fairly translated as Thought and Will. 

In other Sutras 1 2 * it is said that the Universe proceeds in a fixed 
order, implying Intelligence and Purpose, and unmistakably suggest- 
ing evolution or progressive development according to fixed laws. 

The Hegelian conception of the Infinite returning upon itself 3 
has reference to its return from its self- extern alisation into a higher 
unity with its own sell: again. It means, for us human beings, the 
alternation of dying to the lower and rising into higher existence — a 
dying to live a larger and larger self — a conception not foreign to the 
Indian Vedanta , 4 if one would take the trouble of understanding it 
correctly. 1 shall have to refer to this idea at greater length 
iater on. 

I now ask if the Brahman , as described in the Vedanta SCitras, can 
be said to be a ‘characterless nothingness.” 5 Is it not, to use Hegel’s 
own language, “ a principle which moves itself to its manifestation 
or produces it, as the unmoved which moves according to the pro- 
found expression of Aristotle ? ” Shankar himself expresses this 
very idea of a Being unmoved yet moving through its own inseparable 
power called Mdyd. If by “characterless” Hegel meant to refer 
to the Vedfintic idea of nirguna Brahma , he obviously misunderstood 
what that expression was meant to convey. Guna, though popu- 
larly translated as “ quality ”, is, however, a technical word denoting 
the component constituents of Nature ( prakriti ), which characterise 
all that has come into being, and as such are liable to change. These 
Gunas cannot be predicated of the Pure Absolute Being, Brahma , 
which is essentially all that the Eternal Changeless One must be. They 
constitute in reality the negative aspect of Brahma , and are supposed 
to belong to prakriti or Mdyd , which is ever inseparable from Brahma . 
In the language of Hegelianism, this takes away from Brahma the 
character of an empty abstraction and conduces for man, in the normal 


1 Chhand. Up. VI, 2, 3-4 ; Ved. Sutr. 
II. 3-13 ; I. 5-6. 

2 Ved. Sutr. II. 2, 1-6. 

8 See this process lucidly explained 
in Haldane’s ‘Pathway,’ II. pp. 109, 157, 
i58. 

4 See the idea of “ self-extemaliza* 

tion ” developed by Shankar in his Gloss 


on Ved. Sutr. I. 4, 26. S.B*E. Vol. 34, 
p. 287. See also Ved. Paribh. See 
also Bhag. Git. IX. 4. “By me all 
this world is pervaded in my unmani- 
fested aspect; all beings ha' e root in 
Me, I am not rooted in them.” 

5 For a further refutation of this 
charge, see Rabindra Nath Tagore’s 
“ Sadhana,” pp. 16—18. 



16 


THE VEDANTA AND ITS HEGELIAN CRITICS. [CHAP. II. 


condition of his present embodied existence, to enrich the conception 
of Brahma in the Hegelian sense. 

These writers entirely ignore the fact that the Indian Advaita is 
the ultimate synthesis of thought, underlying the different teachings 
of the Indian schools. They make no distinction between these 
several schools, which, though apparently different in their tenets, 
are yet considered not as being in conflict with each other, but as 
steps to the attainment of the highest truth, 1 and which consequently 
are all included under the general title of the Ved&nta ; nor do they 
make any distinction between the two great monistic schools of Advaita 
and Vishishtadvaita, represented respectively by Shankar and Rama- 
nuja. If these distinctions had been present to their mind, their 
observations would not have been of so sweeping a character as they 
are against the Indian Vedanta in general. They would have at least 
excepted the dualistic systems 2 * of Madhvacharyaand Vallabhacharya 
and the monistic teachings of the Ramanuja school, from the objec- 
tion taken by them to the Indian Vedanta. 

Ramanuja’s view of Brahma and the creation may be gleaned from 
the Shri Bhashya, which is his own commentary of the VedAnta 
Shtras.3 

The teachings of the Vedanta , according to him, are that there are 
three ultimate entities known to philosophy ; the intelligent indivi- 
dual soul, the non-intelligent matter, and God ; that God is the Sup- 
reme Brahma , and is the cause of the universe, matter and soul con- 
stituting his body or modes, prakdra , that the soul enters into matter 
and thereby makes it live, and, similarly, God enters into matter 
and soul, and guides them from within 4 ; that Brahma is not devoid 


1 See M&ndukya Up. III. 18 and 

Shankar’s Gloss thereon ; Dvivedi’s 

Edn., p. 73 ; c/. also Bhag. Git. V. 4-5. 

See a reconciliation of the several sys- 
tems of Indian Philosophy by Vijny&na 
Bhikshu cited in Max Mailer’s * Six Sys- 
tems of Indian Philosophy,* pp. 591-601. 
This passage reminds one of the view 
which Hegel himself has taken of the 
several systems of thought. He says 
“ the different systems which the history 
of Philosophy presents are not there- 
fore irreconcilable with unity. We 
may either say that it is one philosophy 
at different degrees of maturity, or that 
the particular principle, which is the 


ground -work of each system, is but a 
branch of one and the same universe 
of thought.” ‘ Hegel’s Logic ’ by Wallace, 

p. 22. 

3 These dualistic systems represent 
a “ return of philosophy from the heights 
of speculation to the uncritical con- 
ceptions of common sense, hallowed 
with a glow of reverential faith.” See 
‘ Aspects of the Ved&nta.* (Madras), p. 18. 

8 The references in this para, are to 
the Madras Translation of Shri Bh&shya 
by Messrs. Rang&ch&rya and Varada- 
raja. 

4 Ibid, Introd. p. 2. 



CHAP. II.] THE VEDaNTA AXD ITS HEGELIAN CRITICS. 


17 


of attributes 1 , but endowed with all the imaginable auspicious qua- 
lities 2 ; that the world, as we see it, is not illusory but real, only 
the reality is not independent of or apart from Brahma, 3 that these 
three entities are naturally distinct from each other 4 ; that there is 
no essential oneness of the individual self with the supreme self 5 ; that 
salvation means not that the individual soul becomes identical, in 
essence, with the Supreme Self, but that it acquires most of the divine 
qualities of that Self ( dtmabhdva ), and in that sense becomes one 
with Him 6 ; that this state of perfection is attainable only by purity 
of life, righteous conduct, and a loving devotion to God and by His 
Grace . 7 Quoting the Bhagwat Gita (xiv. *J) he says that such a soul 
rests in God ; it is not in any wav hurt at the time of the pralaya 
(cosmic deluge) nor born again at tire time of fresh cosmic evolution ; 
that till such perfection is attained, the individual soul has to pass 
through a succession of embodied existence ; that even at the 
time of the pralaya, the individual souls resume their further 
development, when the next cycle begins at the will of God . 8 

Brahma , according to Ramanuja, thus comprises, within itself, 
distinct elements of plurality, which all lay claim to reality. It is a 
Personal God, who is all-powerful, all-knowing and all-merciful. Ho 
k< pervades and rules all things which exist — material and immaterial 
as their antarydmin " 9 (Inner Guide). 

Thus, to use the pet expressions of Hegelian philosophers, we have, 
in Ramanuja’s system, God, man, and nature, man transcending 
nature, and both man and nature finding their ultimate reconcilia- 
tion in God — a unity in variety. 

To such a view it is hardly possible to take any exception on the 
ground of its being a false or empty abstraction, or of its having a 
tendency to acosmism. 

It is only when we come to the rigorous monism of Advaitins like 
Shankar that the objections noted above have an apparent relevancy, 
though even here they have no validity, except at a stage, which the 

6 Ibid. p. 148. 

7 Ibid . p. 238. 

w Ved. Sutia, S.B.E., Vol. 34, Introd 
pp. xxviii — ix. 

9 Ibid. p. xxviii. 


1 Shri Bhashya, pp. 156, 344 — 5. 
Ibid. p. 232. 

3 Ibid. p. 233. 

4 Ibid. p. 235. 
a Ibid. p. 146. 



18 


THE VEDANTA AND ITS HEGELIAN CRITICS. [CHAP. II. 


philosophers of the West, of the present age, may well ignore, if they 
are either unwilling to acknowledge its possibility or unable to appre- 
ciate its truth. 

Shankar, like Ramanuja, appealed to the same scriptural authority, 
but his view of the Vedanta , as taught in the Upanishads, is as 
follows 1 * * : — 

Whatever is, is in reality One. There truly exists one Universal 
Being, called Brahma or Paramdtman , the Highest Self ... It 
is pure Thought and Being — Intelligence or Thought is not however 
its attribute, but constitutes its essence ; it is not a thinking Being 
but Thought itself . . . Associated with its own power called Mdyd or 
Avidyd , it is the cause of the universe that we see and is called God. 
This power, Maya, is neither Satnov A sat (Being nor Not- Being) — not 
Sat , because Brahma alone is Sat ; not A sat, in the strict sense of the 
term, for it is the cause of the world. In the presence of Brahma which 
is All-Intelligence, Mdyd modifies itself by a progressive evolution 
into all the individual existences, (Bheda), distinguished by special 
names and forms (Ndma Rupa) of which the world consists ; from it 
there spring in due succession tho different material elements and 
the whole bodily apparatus belonging to sentient beings. In all 
these individual forms of existence, the indivisible Brahma is ever 
present; but owing to the particular accidents or adjuncts into 
which Mdyd , the inseparable power of Brahma , has specialised itself, 
it appears to be broken up — it is broken up, as it were — into a 
multiplicity of intellectual or sentient principles, [divas or indivi- 
dual souls). What is real (eternal) in each diva is only the uni- 
versal Brahma itself : but the individual diva , instead of recognising 
itself to be Brahma, blindly identifies itself with these accidents 
or adjuncts ( upddhis ), viz., the body and the sense-organs, and 
looks for its true Self there ; so long as it has not discovered its true 
Self and clings to the sense-organs and the external objects of sense 
perception, it is subject to a succession of embodied existences ; at 
each cycle (Kalpa) these individual souls lie in Brahma 4 in deep 
slumber as it were if the consequences of their former deeds are 
not yet exhausted, they have again to enter on embodied existence 

1 The account I have given here is occasional changes in the language 

largely taken from Professor Thibaut’s rendered necessary for a clear state- 

jutroduction, S. B. E. Vol. 34, with ment of Shankar’s own utterances . 



CHAP. II.] THE VEDaNTA AND ITS HEGELIAN CRITICS. 


19 


when Brahma sends forth a new material world ; but this round 
of births and deaths ceases as soon as the truth is realised 
of the doctrine Tai twam asi — the ujpddhis attached to the individual 
become extinct, and it recognises its own identity with Brahma / 

This is no new view suggested by Shankar for the first time. 
It had its sanction in the Vedas 2 , in the Upanishads, and in the 
Bhagwat Gitd, as old as Plato at least, whose ideas were developed 
later in what is called Neo-Platonism in a similar manner. 


The view enunciated by Ramanuja represents an earlier stage 
in the development of Indian philosophic thought. The Indian 
Vedanlin could not rest content with the dualism implied in that 
view. .Like the Eleatics he percei/ed that there could be one and 
only one principle, the Ultimate Reality — the Sat from which both 
Man ano Nature get theii being and in which they both live and 
move and find their final reconciliation and rest. That principle is 
Brahma , the Absolute One, which, from its very nature, must be 
infinite and inaccessible by itself to the understanding of Man. 
It is possible to conceive that he viewed Brahma almost as 
Maimonides viewed the Absolute, and thought that if Brahma is 
an Absolute Unity, every element of plurality or difference must 
be excluded from it; it cannot be conceived as having matter for its 
body or as possessing attributes ; for these, whether considered 
as its essence or considered as accidents, would equally vitiate 
the conception ; as the essence of Brahma they would create a 
plurality of infinites, and, besides, introduce into its nature the 
divisibility and compositeness which belong only to corporeal 
things ; as mere accidents they would only become so much 
superaddition and express nothing in the reality of the divine 
nature ; being beyond the reach of speech, any predicates, by which 
we suppose ourselves to attain to a knowledge of Brahma , are 
strictly an expression of our own ignorance, and the only strictly 
accuiate way of describing such an incomprehensible Being would 
be by the negative method Neti Neti — not so, not so — by showing 
not what Brahma is, but what it is not. 3 


1 See Thibaut, S. B. E. Vol. 34, In- 
trod. pp. xxiv — xxvii. 

2 See, e.g., Rig Veda, X, 129, 2. 

8 See Shankar on Bkag. Git&, XtIL 
12, and Brihad&ranyaka Up. II, 3-6 


and eompare J. Caird’s 1 Spinoza,' 
p. 64. To assign attributes to such a 
Being would be rather its degradation 
than elevation, says H. Spencer, ‘First 
Principles,’ p. 109 



20 THE VEDANTA AND ITS HEGELIAN CRITICS. [CHAP. II. 

This may perhaps appear as rarefying the idea of the Supreme 
Principle to a logical abstraction — which is simply the negation of the 
finite ; but such a view of the matter would be misleading. Thought 
does not construct Universals out of singulars, conceptions out of 
particulars, but begins absolutely and at once with Universals or 
general conceptions. 1 As I shall try to show in the sequel, the con- 
ception of the Ultimate Reality is a metaphysical conception, not 
reached by any process of logical abstraction ; it is a psychological 
fact and represents the fundamental truth of all philosophy. 

If the process by which this conception was reached by the Veddn- 
tin was a logical abstraction, his case was not singularly exceptional. 
Not to speak of the ancient Greek philosophers, in modern times, 
too, many eminent thinkers of the 17th century are said to have arriv- 
ed at the pure and absolute Reality by a similar process. Spinoza 
was one of them. He, too, like some of the earliest Indian and Greek 
philosophers, considered that true happiness lay not in the ordi- 
nary objects of human desire — in riches, honours, or the pleasures 
of appetite and sense — these he considered to be inconstant, 
perishable and deceptive, having an ephemeral reality. And he, 
accordingly, endeavoured to find some true and abiding object of 
love — something in finding which he would find a perfect and 
eternal joy. By a process of introspection and (as Hegelianism 
would have it) by a process of abstraction from all determination, 
holding that all determination is negation, he discovered the 
Divine in Man, and that he called the Most Perfect Being, 
Single, Infinite and All-Embracing— the source and origin of the 
entire Universe. He is the immanent and not the transient cause 
of all things : all things are in God and move in God. 

The God so reached was, according to Principal Caird, an 
“ indeterminate substance of which nothing can be affirmed ... a 
self-identical unity into which no distinction or difference can 
enter.” “ But still,” says Principal Caird, “ Spinoza intended 
to Und in that principle the explanation of all things. The whole 
finite world was to be so involved in the idea of God as to be 
doducible from it he, however, adds that to achieve this result, 
Spinoza had recourse to an illogical expedient. • . . “ He 

1 Ferrier’s “ Greek Philosophy.” p. 235. 



CHAP. II.] THE VEDANTA AND ITS HEGELIAN CRITICS. 


21 


attempted by means of a conception to mediate between the 
Infinite and finite, and to gain for the latter a legitimate derivation 
from the former ” — the concepticfn of what he terms the 
“ infinite modes ” — a sort of connecting link between the Infinite 
and finite. 

It is this philosophy for which Hegel pays Spinoza a compli- 
ment by saying that in thus arriving at the Absolute Reality, 
Spinoza stood on a firm rock, and the system of Ethics he built 
was the most sublime . T 

Thu Indian Vedanta , assuming it to be quite Spinozistic in its 
character and no better, is entitled to at least this modicum of 
praise, if lo nothing more, from Hegelian philosophers, especially 
when we find them having a good word for other philosophers 
deemed guilty of the like fault of false and empty abstraction. 

Herbert Spencer, for instance, is said to have arrived at his 
Great Unknowable by a similar process of abstraction. But in 
discussing the defect of Spencer's method, Dr. Edward Caird 2 can- 
didly recognises the element of truth it contains. 

“ It is truo ” (he says) “ that the movement of thought from the 
finite to the Infinite is regressive and that this regression is caused 
by a discernment of the negative or unreal character of the finite 
existence from which we start. It is the illusive ness , 2 the un- 
certainty, the instability of the things of time and sense , which in the 
first instance at least makes us look beyond them to God. It is not 
because of what the finite is, but mainly because of what it is not , 
that we seek refuge in the Infinite. As it is the illusion of appear- 
ance that awakens scientific enquiry to search beneath or beyond 
it for that which is not to be found in it, so it is the failure of the 
world to supply what he at first sight expected to get from it that 
drives man back upon God. . . . The necessity of thought to rise 

from the finite to the infinite lies in the awakening consciousness that 
the finite in itself is naught, that neither the intelligence nor the Will 

can finally accept it as an absolute reality Such being 

the case, it is natural that the Infinite which is reached by such a 
regressive process should, in the first instance, be defined as that 

1 < Phil. Rel.’ I, 99; II., 48,49. 4 The italics in this para, are the 

9 ‘ Evol. Rel.* Vol. I., p. toe. author’s 



22 


THE VEDaNTA AND ITS HEGELIAN CRITICS. [CHAP. II. 


in which all the limits and imperfections of the finite are done 
away, and that the purely affirmative Being, the Supreme Reality, 
should be regarded as the negative of an existence which is itself 
negative or unreal.” 1 

If this was the process used by the Indian Vedantin, it must be 
borne in mind that this would be only a stage, preparatory for a 
positive movement, in which we contemplate the finite from the 
point of view of the Infinite, like going up a hill and taking a survey 
of the regions below; and that this higher stage means that the 
Infinite itself must be conceived not merely as that which the 
finite is not, but as that ivhich includes and explains it, not merely 
as an indeterminate background of the finite, but as a self-deter- 
mining principle which manifests itself in all the determinations of 
the finite without losing its unity with itself. 

I have elsewhere shown, and it will be my endeavour later on to 
show in more detail, that the Indian Vedanta has taken this further 
step also, and the conception it has formed of Brahma is all that 
it should be to satisfy the Hegelian test, and more. It is sufficient 
here to refer to the Bhag. Git. xiii. 13-17, 27, 30-33. 

But assuming, as some have done, that Brahma is no more than 
a negation of the finite, the question is, whether such a conception 
is an empty one and, therefore, inadequate to be the concrete basis 
of religious consciousness and life. If it is wrong Philosophy, is it 
bad Theology, too ? 

It is said that such a conception, though logically correct, is a 
bare abstraction, which can have nothing concrete corresponding 
to that conception ; that to elevate it into a Being and endow it 
with the character of a metaphysical reality is only tantamount 
to a personification of an abstract principle, giving rise to a system 
which is a kind of poetical or imaginative Pantheism. 

It would have been nothing strange if to the poetic mind of the 
Indian sages such a system had been found attractive. In their 
religious fervour and ascetic life, if the abstract conception had 
found a concrete embodiment in their imagination, it might become 


1 Cf. Shankar’ 8 explanation ‘ Virodh&di II., 32. The Absolute is the negation 
abh&vah paramdrthatd iti, * M&ndukya Up. of negation. 



CHAP. II.] THE VEDANTA AND ITS HEGELIAN CRITICS. 


23 


efficient enough to arouse in them exactly the same sentiments of 
universalising spiritual principle, which in practical life is found to 
be a most ennobling ideal ; if they felt themselves completely 
identified with the principle involved in their conception of 
Brahma and thought that they could realise it in themselves, what 
more was needed than such a principle, which was capable of 
responding to the cravings of the human heart V St. Paul is said 
to have fully identified himself with the principle manifested in 
Christ, while refusing to Know Christ after the flesh.” 

Here is admittedly a case of abstraction of a principle, which, 
according to the Hegelian standard, is an empty one, because 
there is nothing of concrete riches in it. But it is interesting to 
read the justification of this abstract conception given by the 
very philosophers who have condemned such a process in the 
Indian Vedanta . 

Professor Pfieiderer 1 2 says : — 

“ True as it is that the Spiritual Christ of Pauline preaching 
rests upon an abstraction, which may appear poor in com- 
parison with the fulness of life in the real historical Jesus, yet it is 
also certain that it was only by this abstraction from all externalities 
and contingencies in its manifestation that the ideal principle of the 
religion revealed in Jesus could be put in such clear light — that its 
truth might be made luminous and noble — as holding good universally 
for the humanity of all peoples , and all times ” 

Dr. Edward Caird, again, says as follows 3 

“ The Stoic, isolating himself from all the life of the family and 
state found in the isolated self upon which he withdrew the 


1 It is interesting to note that even a 
critic of the Vrddnta like Gough has to 
admit that the Brahma is not an empty 
abstraction, as the Indian Mystic in his 
hoi r of ecstacy knows well ; that the 
Brahma is positive and self- affirming, 
for, says Shankar£ch&rya, the last resi- 
duum of all abstraction is not non-entity 
hut entity. It is the object of the notion 
“ I,” and is present to every soul. 

anfarqqfarc < See 

Gough’s ‘ Phil. Up.’ p. 37). 

Gough further quotes (ibid. p. 38) 
Anandagiri from Taitt. Up. that Brahma 


is a vastness unlimited in space and in 
time and in content, for there is 
nothing known as a limit to it, and the 
term applies to a thing of transcendent 
greatness. 

The italics in the above passages are 
the author’s. 

2 “ Lectures,” Vol. I, 150. The italics 
are the author’s. . 

Cf. Edward Caird’ s - Evol. Rel./Vol. 
II, pp. 215, 219. 

• * Evol. Rel.,’ Vol. II, p. 130. 

Cf. also, E. Caird’s ‘Evol. Greek 
Theology,’ Vol. II, pp. 237, 242 



24 THE VEDaNTA AND ITS HEGELIAN CRITICS. [CHAP. II. 

principle of a cosmopolitan society, and thus rose to a new 
positive conception of the relation of men to men which could take 
the place of the old relations of kinsmen or fellow-citizens.” 

It is thus clear that the richness of an abstract conception 
depends upon its efficacy in awakening the religious conscious- 
ness of man. Where an intensive feeling is aroused thereby, it 
transcends the limits of logic, and is capable of a richness and 
fulness of content, which baffle definitions and outstrip the compass 
of the hard and fixed categories of the understanding. Our most 
exalted spiritual experiences are least capable of being expressed by 
precise scientific formulae, and when we attempt to express them, 
the language we use insensibly takes a negative form. 1 

The richness of an abstract conception thus depends very much 
on the capacity of the mind to grasp it and so to realise it in 
practical life as to give it, so to speak, a concrete form. All ideals 
are illustrations of this truth. 

But what false or empty abstraction is involved in our concep- 
tion of Brahma ? Is the theory of knowledge by which modern 
philosophy in Europe tests these questions itself correct ? 2 Pro- 
fessor Ferrier and Professor Veitch tell us that it is not, and 
requires correction ; it takes no note, at the outset, of what man, 
as ’a fact, does know ; it ignores the fact that the laws of our 
knowing the object in time and space are not necessarily the 
laws of our knowing all objects 3 * * ; it takes no note of the fact that 
all important and primitive truths are known to Reason not by any 
syllogistic process. The cogito ergo sum , for instance, of . Descartes, 
is not a syllogism but an enthymeme. Without an exhaustive study 
of psychology, without fully realising what actually is involved in the 
conception of thought, it boldly ventures to stigmatise psychologi- 
cal and metaphysical facts as unthinkable fictions, empty abstrac- 
tions, devoid of content, etc., etc., when these facts are found to be 
inconsistent with that theory. The truth is that the gulf supposed 
to exist between Being and Knowing is at once bridged by the 

1 J. Caird’s * Introd. Phil. Rel.,’ pp. Brahmav&din for 1906, pp. 67 and 

24-26. following, on the Br&hmic condition of 

a Modem speculative thought is im- Miml. 

potent Jo reach the heights to which 8 Veitch, p. 3. 

VeddrUahiB gone. See an article in Vol. II 



CHAP. II.] THE VEDaNTA AND ITS HEGELIAN CRITICS. 


25 


principle known to the ancients long before Descartes enunciated it 
as cogito ergo sum . Knowing and Being are fused in one intellec- 
tual comprehension, the subject and object becoming implicative . 1 

If the Vedantin recognises in the Brahma Absolute Existence 
and Absolute Intelligence (Sat, Chit), the Absolute Sat to which all 
existences are referable, the Absolute Knowledge which considers 
things in their eternal and infinite connection with itself and 
never apart from it, the true principles of all being and all 
knowledge here flow into one. And there is no empty abstraction 
in such a case with which the Brahma of the Vedanta is charged. 

Assuming that in reaching out conception of Brahma there is 
involved a process of negation and abstraction, this negation would 
be only << partial one. In the very process of negation the affirma- 
tion is implied as its correlate, and vice versa ; besides, what is 
negated is, in fact, not the reality of the world we see, but the 
isolated and independent substantiality, which in our unenlightened 
condition we are apt to assign to the finite creation ; the positive 
unchanging element in it, viz. the Sat , is unreservedly recognised in 
this process of negation as its substrate and necessary accompani- 
ment. Our knowledge of the Absolute is either intuitive or 
empirical. If intuitive, it may be abstract but not empty . 2 It 
would in this view be founded on a certainty — an ultimate fact 
from which we cannot escape. It would be a psychological fact. 
If empirical, we reach the noumenal reality through our experience 
of the phenomenal world, and having got at it thus and recognised 
it as the eternal and ultimate reality, we cling to it as the eternal 
reality (Sat), not forgetting at the same time that inasmuch as, 
generally speaking, every cognition implies the synthesis of the Sat 
and Asat (the Universal ego and the particular predicate which is 
the object of the cognition for the time being), the two are in this 
sense inseparable in cognition. So that when one speaks of 
the Sat alone, there is something of the concrete attaching to that 
conception even in its negative character of Neti Neti ; it is thus 


1 See Ved. Sutr. Ill, 2. 21 Shankar’s 
Gloss on the same, S.B.E., Vol. 38, 
p. 160, where thought and existence 
are regarded as inseparable. 

See also S. B. E. Vol. 34, p. 106, 


where nature without mind and mind 
without nature are regarded as impossi- 
ble. 

* See Hegel’s ‘Phil. Rei.’ Vol. I, 
pp. 120, 328. 



26 


THE VEDaNTA AND ITS HEGELIAN CRITICS. [CHAP. II. 


not a pure and absolutely unrelated abstraction in the strictest 
sense of the term. Though not capable of verification apart from 
the phenomenal world, it is clearly and intelligibly distinguishable 
from the latter . 1 

The conception thus reached is not pilrely logical but metaphysical, 
and a metaphysical abstraction can never be an empty one. It dis- 
tinguishes the eternal from the contingent, the real from the phe- 
nomenal, and says that except the eternal, and independent of it, 
nothing in reality exists. 

We view Brahma as Spirit becoming known to man, in and by 
reason of its manifestions on itself, as the yrius of all such 
manifestations. In doing so, we do not merely personify or liypo- 
statise a bare abstraction or spiritualise our impressions, as is 
commonly supposed . 2 


1 Cf. a very instructive statement of 
this view in II. Spencer's First Princi- 
ples, pp. 87-89, from which a short 
quotation is subjoined : — 

“ Besides that definite consciousness 
of which logic formulates the laws, there 
is also an indefinite consciousness which 
cannot be formulated. Besides complete 
thoughts, and besides the thoughts 
which, though incomplete, admit of 
completion, there are thoughts which it 
is impossible to complete : and yet which 
are still real, in the sense that they are 
normal affections of the intellect. . . . 

To say that we cannot know the Ab- 
solute, is, by implication, to affirm that 
there is an Absolute. In tho very denial 
of our power to learn what the Absolute 
is, there lies hidden the assumption that 
it is, and the making of this assumption 
proves that tne Absolute has been pre- 
sent to the mind, not as a nothing, but 
as a something. . . The Noumenon, 

everywhere named as tho antithesis of 
the Phenomenon, is throughout 
necessarily thought of as an actuality. 
It is rigorously impossible to conceive 
that our knowledge is a knowledge of 
Appearances only, without at the same 
time oonceiving a Reality of which they 
are appearances , for appearance with- 
out reality is unthinkable 

Clearly, then, the very demonstration 
that a definite consciousness of the 
Absolute is impossible to us, unavoida- 


bly presupposes an indefinite conscious- 
ness of it.” 

Cf. also Seth’s “Hegelianism and 
Personality,” pp. 111-12. 

a It is interesting to note that a similar 
imputation of a false abstraction lias 
been made against Plotinus in that 
lie arrivod at the highest reality and 
treated it as having no need of anything 
but itself ; that in ascending, ho had 
drawn up the ladder alter him and left 
himself no possibility of descending 
again ; yet some way downwards has 
to be found. It is argued that if the 
One, as complete in itself, has no need to 
create and if yet It has created, Ploti- 
nus is bound, in some way, to account 
for the fact and to cut tho knot, if he 
cannot untie it. Accordingly, it is said 
that in describing the movement down- 
wards he has had to take refuge in meta- 
phors and analogies. See E. Caird’s 
4 Evol. Greek Theol.’ Vol. 2, pp. 253-4. 

In such a movement downwards, Dr. 
Caird further asks, with reference to 
Spinoza, can one consistently reassert 
the reality of that which in one’s move- 
ment upwards one has denied to be 
real ? ibid. p. 230. 

Why not ? In tracing the source of a 
river you may go up that river and again 
come back by it. The truth is that in 
going up you do not deny the reality , 
but the independent character of that 
reality. 



CHAP. II.] 


THE VEDANTA AND ITS HEGELIAN CRITICS. 


27 


If the Brahma of the Indian Vedanta is a false and empty 
abstraction, the idea of the Absolute Being in the Hegelian system 
would be no less so. Hegel’s own utterances exposed him, 1 accord- 
ing to Professor Seth, to the charge of having transformed his 
logical Absolute into a metaphysical existence, by a leap across cc the 
ugly broad ditch ” which dialectic is powerless to bridge. But 
Professor Seth suggests a sympathetic explanation of Hegel’s 
meaning. That explanation is, that we first go to the Absolute 
Being as a logical abstraction and then again, as it were , come back 
through our experiential knowledge of actual fact to the quasi or 
dependent reality of Nature, and thence back again to the full 
• eality of the Spirit. It is because we ourselves are Spirits, that 
we cannot scop short of that consummation. The pure form 
craves, as it were *or its concrete realisation. 2 * * * 

The truth is that if one feds the presence of the Infinite in every 
sense-perception of external objects, this Infinite can hardly be said 
to be a mercty logical and therefore an empty abstraction. It is the 
discovery of a psychological fact that man can and does find the In- 
finite behind the finite, and he is conscious of both simultaneously.* 
“ The Infinite per se, as a mere negative,” says Professor Max Muller, 3 
“would have had no interest for primitive man, but as the background, 
as the support, as the subject or the cause of the finite in its 
manifestations, it came in from the earliest period of human 
thought.” 

The Hindu might well say with Descartes : I ought not to think 
that I perceive the Infinite only by the negation of the finite, as I 
perceive rest and darkness by negation of motion and light ; on the 
contrary, I clearly perceive that there is more of reality in Infinite 
substance than the finite. 

Dr. Ballantyne rightly remarks that the “ empty substratum, 
which the Veddntins are fancied to place in the room of the Supreme, 
is precisely what, as a nothing, does not enter into their conception 
of the Supreme at all.” 


1 See however justification of Hegel 2 Seth s Hegelianism anu 

in E. Caird’s “ Evol. Greek Theol.,” Vol. pp. 111-12. 

2, pp. 246-7. Will not the same apply to 8 See H. Spencer’s “First Princi- 

the Veddntic conception ? See also pies,” pp. 87-89. 

Haldane’s “ Pathway,” II, p. 69. . .. NaW Re i igion( » p . 149. 



28 THE VEDANTA AND ITS HEGELIAN CRITICS. [CHAP. II. 

When the ancient Hindu addressed, for instance, his hymns 
to the Dawn, he did not adore a bare abstraction, but something more 
and higher than the Dawn, something within or behind it which did 
not vanish ; which came again and again, day after day, and mani- 
fested itself in the Dawn. It was the “ visible Infinite ” reached 
not by any long process of abstract reasoning. 1 

He was not satisfied with Devas such as Prajapati or Vishvakarman; 
the spirit of honest doubt, in the further stages of his development, 
gave rise to what Professor Max M idler calls adevism , not atheism, and 
name after name was tried to signify what was believed to be higher 
than the concepts of Prajapati, Vishvakarman, and tried in vain. 
Each quest after his higher principle was answered by Neli Neti 
( not-so , not-so). The old gods were abandoned, not because the ancient 
Aryan believed or desired less, but because he believed and desired 
more. At last, he found what he wanted and expressed the same 
by a neuter name, higher than masculine or feminine, not lower. He 
wanted a sexless, but by no means a lifeless C4od. 2 

In their desire to have such a God, full of every content, the Indian 
Mystics passed through a process, wliich lias been aptly described 
by Professor James in his ‘ Varieties of Religious Experiences, ’ p. 41G, 
in the following words : — 

‘ Their very denial of every adjective you may propose as appli- 
cable to the ultimate truth, — He, the Self, the Atman, is to be de- 
scribed by “ No ! no ! ,: only, say the Upanishads — though it seems, 
on the surface, to be a no-function, is a denial made on behalf of a 
deeper Yes. Who so calls the Absolute anything in particular, or 
says that it is this, seems implicitly to shut it off from being that — it 
is, as if he lessened it. So we deny the £ this/ negating the negation 
which it seems to us to imply, in the interest of the higher affirmative 
attitude by wliich we are possessed. The fountain-head of Christian 
Mysticism is Dionysius, the Areopagite. He describes the Absolute 
Truth by negatives exclusively.’ 

“ The cause of all things is neither soul nor intellect ; nor has it 
imagination, opinion, or reason, or intelligence ; nor is it reason or 
intelligence ; nor is it spoken or thought. It is neither number, nor 

1 Of. Max Muller’s “Natural Reli- 9 Cf. Max Miiller’s “Origin and Growth 

gi° n >” P. 145. of Religion,” pp. 145, 310-11, 319. 



CHAP. II.] THE VEDaNTA AND ITS HEGELIAN CRITICS. 


29 


order, nor magnitude, nor littleness, nor equality, nor inequality, 
nor similarity, nor dissimilarity. It neither stands, nor moves, nor 
rests. . . It is neither essence, nor eternity, nor time. Even intel- 
lectual contact does not belong to it. It is neither science 
nor truth. It is not even royalty or wisdom ; not one ; w not 
unity ; not divinity or goodness ; nor even spirit as we know it, etc., 
ad libitum .” 

But these qualifications are denied by Dionysius, not because 
the truth falls short of them, but because it so infinitely excels them. 
It is above them. It is super- lucent, super-splendent, super-e ssential, 
super-subhme, super everything that can be named. Like Hegel 
•n his logic, Mystics journey towards the positive pole of truth only 
by the ‘ methode der Absolute n negativitat.’ The German Mystic 
Eckh art's thoughts in this connection are apposite. ITc says “ God 
is nameless, for no man can either say or understand aught about 
him. If I say, God is good, it is not true ; nay more ; I am good, 
God is not good. I may even say, I am better than God : for whatever 
is good, may become better, and whatever may become better, may 
become best. Now God is not good, for lie cannot become better. 
And if He cannot become better, He cannot become best. For these 
three things, good, better, and best, are far from God, since He is 
above all. If I also say, God is wise, it is not true ; I am wiser than 
lie. If I also say, God is a Being, it is not true; He is transcendent 
Being, and superessential nothingness.” Concerning this St. Augus- 
tine says : “ The best thing that man can say about God is to be 

able to be silent about Him, from the wisdom of his inner judgment. 
Therefore be silent and prate not about God, for whenever thou dost 
prate about God, thou best, and committest sin. If thou wilt be 
without sin, prate not about God. Thou canst understand naught 
about God, for He is above all understanding.” A master saith : 
“If I had a God whom I could understand, I would never hold Him to 
be God.” 1 * * 

If this really was the process involved in the Neti Neti of the Indian 
Vedanta , there is no room to stigmatise the idea as a bare logical and 
empty abstraction, void of all content. Every attempt made by the 

1 See Inge’s “ Light, Life and Love,” Philosophy,’ p. 01, where similar teach- 

pp. 1, 2. ings are attributed to Parmenides. 

Cf. also Zeller’s 4 Outlines of Greek 



30 THE VEDaNTA AND ITS HEGELIAN CRITICS. [CHAP. II. 

Indian Veddntin was to obtain a higher and richer conception and 
not an empty nothing. 

Indian metaphysicians may have adopted a dialectic which to 
the Hegelian system would perhaps not be commendable, but their 
ideas of Brahma , God, the Soul, and the Universe, were the result of 
deliberate thought and were not accepted simply as “made and ready” 
by the canon of popular conception. The Indian Vedanta is the 
synthetic result of a long course of philosophic meditation and 
review of the diverse teachings of Indian schools of thought, tested 
by the theories of knowledge which they had enunciated. 

And the most important concepts, which the Vedantin thus gained 
with their concept of Brahma , were those of Law and Order, imply- 
ing Perfect Intelligence and Wisdom. Shankar himself refers to 
this idea in Mundak Upanishad I, i, 7, which is equivalent to saying 
In natura nihil fit per saltum. 

The Yedantist's Brahma , in the Hegelian mode of expression, is there- 
fore an absolute, self-conscious, self-determining spirit — of thought, 
which reveals itself in the manifold differences of the finite world. 
While it remains one with itself, it is yet the productive source of an 
actual world of ideas and intelligences — a Being which has in it the 
impulse (Sphoorti) to realise itself in all the manifold individualities 
of the finite world, either directly, as suggested by the conception 
of the Word (Logos) or Emanation, or indirectly through its own 
ever inseparable power called Maya. There is, thus, the recogni- 
tion of a principle of self-consciousness or of Thought, which in all 
*ts determinations remains one with itself ; it embraces in its concrete 
unity the whole inexhaustible wealth of the finite world, which it 
lets out and in the fulness of time draws in (as the tortoise draws 
in its limbs, Ktirmdngdni iva) at its free will, to be again let out in view 
of further development. 1 The finite world is not lost in the Veddnlic 
Brahma , but retains its individuality. Even the individual, who 
has reached perfection and realised his own identity with it, is not 
lost ; the idea is that such a one remains, so to speak, centered in 
his Self, and is no longer subject to the rounds of births and deaths ; 
he may, and generally does, continue his individuality for the regen- 
eration of mankind, maintaining his own freedom and continuing 


1 Cf. H. Spencer’s First Principles, pp. 182-8, 190. 



CHAP. II.] 


THE VEDaNTA AND ITS HEGELIAN CRITICS. 


31 


unaffected by this ever changing Smnsara . The history of the 
Saviours of mankind all over the world is just this. 

The Brahma is, accordingly, no abyss which swallows up all finite 
beings ; it is no cave into which everything passes as i:uo a kind of 
eternal night ; it is no lion’s den into which all the footsteps go and 
none lead out again. To use Professor Pfleiderer’s own expression, 
66 It is the positive ground which produces and maintains the finite.” 
In Shankar’s language, it is the “ root of the Universe, and these 
creatures- -moveable and immoveable — have their root in it; during 
their continuance, too, they rest in it.” It is that in which we live 
and move and have our being . 1 The sentiment of a Hindu, that his 
salvation is in his own union with Brahma , ought to be intelligible 
to those who are familiar with the Christian idea of “ union with 
God,” £ ' sleeping in Christ Jesus ” &c. That notion is not absurd 
any more than the other is. 

1 Chhand. Up. VI, H, 4. 



CHAPTER III. 


THE GREAT ENIGMA 1 . 

In the last chapter 1 endeavoured to show that the conception of 
Brahma is not an empty logical abstraction, as Hegel and his followers 
generally suppose ; that it is a metaphysical reality which is the 
fundamental basis of all our experience. It is Absolute Thought and 
Being. I have also there stated that the neti neli (not so, not so) of 
the Indian Veddntin indicates a higher affirmative attitude, which 
he took in his quest after the Absolute Being. It is undisputed th :t 
he had passed rhe initial stage of pure Objectivism, and started, 
from the opposite standpoint, to comprehend and explain the Universe 
by a single principle, contemplating the finite from the point of view 
of the infinite, and recognising his Brahma as a self-determining prin- 
ciple manifesting itself in all the determinations of the finite, without 
losing its unity with itself. And his refusal to assign any attributes 
to that principle was clue to his conviction that any attributes which 
man could think of, would fall infinitely short of the exact truth. 
He found that it was simply degrading the Supreme Power in the 
very process of thus scanning It ; the truth being, as Prof. James 
puts it, “ .super- lucent, .super-splendent, super-essential, super- 
sublime, super- everything that can be named’’. 2 

We have, unfortunately, no historical data of how the ancient 
Indian sages arrived at the results which are found formulated in the 
writings which have reached us. Possibly, as Dr. Roer surmises, “in 
the dawn of philosophical thought it is found more easy to give the result 
of researches than the researches themselves.” But there are abund- 
ant grounds for the belief that the Hindu passed through exactly 
the same stages of mental development as other nations elsewhere 
did, and, probably, in the same order. He looked, first outward 
then upward , and then inward . 

1 Originally contributed to ‘ East » Cf. the same idea in Shankar’s Gloss 
& West,’ for 1904, pp. 869-78, and 993 on Ved. Sutr. II, 1, J4. Vol. 34, 

to 998. p. 329 . 



CHAP. III.] 


THE GREAT ENIGMA, 


33 


So long as he was in the first stage, he would naturally make a dis- 
tinction between what is called Spirit and Nature, and assign to each 
an independent reality. In the next stage, he would see that these 
two co-existing eternal principles would be a limitation of each other, 
and destroy the infinitude of both ; he would, therefore, if an idealist, 
subordinate Nature to Spirit, matter to mind ; but he would, in that 
case, feel the necessity of an explanation, by which the antithesis 
between the two could be reconciled ; for, without it, a transition 
from the one to the other would not be possible. He would know 
that the dualism of the finite and infinite must be overcome and 
substantial unity reached ; and his explanation at this stage would 
probably be like the one which has more or less influenced Christian 
philosophers since the time of Descartes ; and where polytheism 
(though not quite in the Greek sense of the term) prevailed side 
by side with monotheism, each phenomenon in Nature would have 
its own God to explain it by. 

But when the divine in man was discovered to be identical with the 
divine in Nature, that fact itself would furnish an explanation by 
which to overcome the apparent dualism of the finite and the infinite. 
In other words, when the Veddntin felt that his own self gave him 
an idea of Thought and Being, when ho saw that there was, under- 
lying all phenomena, also a Self — a Supreme Power — Thought and 
Will — whose manifestations they are, when ho took the further step 
and recognised the identity of the subjective self in man and the ob- 
jective self in nature, he thought that he had found a solution of the 
grand problem of the Universe 1 2 . 

And, indeed, what better explanations of this problem can be given 
than those suggested by the Indian Veddntin h (A) Either view 
the whole cosmos as one living organism in an Eternal Now3, and 


1 As to evolution of Indian philo- 
sophic thought see the well considered 
remarks of Prof. Doussen in his ‘ Philo- 
sophy ol tho Upanishads,’ pp. 183 — 5, 
158, 168, 171 and 236, showing how tho 
strict Adwaita doctrine reconciled itself 
with the popular idea of the Universe 
and the traditional doctrine of the Rig 
Veda. 

2 See Viveka Chud&mani, verses 230, 
232, 233, 394, 397. 

s As to this conception, see Clifford 
Harrison’s ‘ Notes on the Margins,’ pp. 249 


• — 251, where ho says that the history of 
all the worlds is actually travelling in 
space, without over absolutely dis- 
appearing, that all past events are 
present and indestructible in the bosom of 
the infinite . 

Cf. also Leadbeatcr’s ‘ Clairvoyance, ’ 
pp. 109—113. 

Haldano’s ‘Pathway,’ II, pp. 157 
— 158, also pp. 12, 46, 64. 

Deussen’s ‘Phil. Up.’ p. 137 — the 
eternal day of Brahman . 

Shankar’s Gloss on Ved. Sutr. I, 
1-4. S.B.E. Vol. 31 - 


3 



34 


THE GREAT ENIGMA. 


[CHAP. III. 


treat the appearance of the Universe as an independent entity to be 
illusory, leaving the question, as to how it appears so originated 
in time and space, practically unexplained ; or, (B) if one must 
seek an explanation of this apparently differentiated and isolated 
universe, that explanation must be sought in some such conceptions 1 
as that of (1) the World, or (2) Emanation or Evolution, or (3) the 
inscrutable power of the Eternal Being — the Maya of the Vedanta 
system. 

By one or other of these, the Indian Vedantin has sought to ex- 
plain the problem. 

Rigorous Advaitins like Gaudapada and Shankar adopt the first 
of these views. They leave unexplained how the universe has come 
to appear as a differentiated reality ; they attribute this appearance 
to Mayd , the inscrutable power (atma shakti) of Brahma , and say that 
it has no reality independent of or apart from Brahma. Whatever 
is, is all One — from Eternity — in an Eternal Now. There is no evo- 
lution, no emanation, no causation, &c., &c., which are purely time 
conceptions. 2 * 

But while adopting this view as being the most correct from a 
philosophic standpoint, they do not reject any of the other views 
which I have above mentioned. They freely accept the texts which 
maintain them, as being necessary for the edification of people of varied 
intellectual capacity. Shankar distinctly says that the explanations 
therein suggested may be either true or metaphorical, although he 
personally is inclined to the latter view. It may be, he says, that 
“ the Lord Omniscient, Omnipotent, the Great Conjuror, did, like 
a conjuror, do all this illusion to facilitate explanation as well as com- 


1 See Dvivedi’s Mand. Up. Introd. pp. 
xxiv and xxviii, where many of such 
conceptions are stated and explained. 

Cf. also the relied 

on by Shankar in his V&kya Sudhi. 

2 See Shankar’s Gloss on Ved. Sutr. 
II, I, 9, 16, 35, 36 ; S.B.E., Vol. 34, pp. 
311, 332, 360, 361 ; and M&ndukya Up. 
IV, 22, 46, 58, &c. 

Cf. Veitch “Knowing & Being,” p. 21. 
“ Allis one,” cf. Bhag. Git. VII, 7, and 
Brihat. Up. II, 5, 15, 

It is interesting to note that Lotze’s 
solution is very similar to Shankar’s ; 
see Hegel’s 4 Phil. Rel.’, pp. 33-40 and 


105, (no causation) ; p. 88 (no ema- 
nation) ; pp. 91 and following (no pro- 
jection) ; p. 121 (no production). 

Cf. a similar notion of Spinoza that the 
Universe is not to be conceived as 
arising or beginning to be ; it is , and 
from eternity it was (See ‘ Hist. 
Pantheism,’ Vol. 2, p. 322). Shankar 
expresses the same idea by the term 
Anddi Samsdra ( ^T'TTK ) 

As to modern Christian thought re- 
garding the world in time and space 
as a realisation of the pure unity of 
thought in matter, see Edward Caird’s 
‘ Evol. Greek Theol.*, Vol. II, p. 241. 



CHAP. III.] 


THE GREAT ENIGMA. 


35 - 


prehension, as stories, though false, ” are meant to convey truths. 1 
Or, it may be that the texts which give those explanations are ** only 
meant as means to assist the true realisation of the Atman — as helps 
to assist the mind in grasping the unity of the Atman ” 2 * 

What Plato’s conception of a World Soul did for his system, what 
the Logos did for the Neo-Platonism of Alexandrian philosophy,, 
these conceptions of the Word, Evolution and Mdyd have done for 
the Indian Vedanta. 

From a philosophic point of view, it may, perhaps, be said that 
these are mere expedients or devices adopted as a substitute for ra- 
tional thought, for, from the standpoint of the Absolute no explana- 
tion might be necessary. To know the Absolute is, as Schelling says, 
to be the Absolute, and all differentiations would necessarily vanish 
with that Knowledge. It is only from the standpoint of the universe, 
where the phenomenal world presses on our attention and we can- 
not escape its recognition as a differentiated and independent entity, 
that we are bound to suggest some explanation of how the One has 
become many or appears to have become many. 3 That explanation 
may appear more or less metaphorical ; but how can we avoid the 
use of metaphorical language in our explanations of spiritual truths. 
Hegel’s own dialectic affords a remarkable illustration of this necessity. 
What may be fairly insisted on, in such cases, is that the explanation 
offered must be one, which is intelligible without being irrational. 

When the Veddntin , for instance, says that the world originated 
from the Word, and that this Word is Brahma*; when Shankar said, 
on the authority of some Smriti , that “in the beginning Divine Speech 
( Vdch ), consisting of Veda, was uttered by the Self Existent from 


1 Ait. Up. IV; c/. Ved. Sutr. S.B.E., 
Vol. 34, pp. 328 and following. Cf. 
also S.B.E., Vol. 38, pp. 178, 401 

union with Brahman a metaphorical 
expression). 

2 See Mandukya Up. Ill, 15, 10 and 
23, and Shankar’s Gloss on the same. See 
also Patanjali’s Sutras, II, 18. 

8 In reality, says Shankar, ‘ the 
creation of the world and similar topics 
are not at all what the Shruti wishes 
to teach us. . . passages about crea- 

tion and the like, .subserve the purpose 
of teaching Brahma ; . . the creation 

is described merely for the purpose of 


teaching us that (what is supposed to 
be) the effect is not really different from 
the (supposed) cause.’ See Ved. Sutr. 
S.B.E., Vol. 34, pp. 265, 266, 357. See 
also ibid. p. 267. 

4 See Ved. Sutr. I, 3, 28; S.B.E., Vol. 
34, p. 201. 

Cf. also Max Muller’s 4 Six systems 
Ind. Phil,’ pp. 520-22, 534 and following ; 

Max Midler’s “Theosophy,” pp. 519> 
and following ; 

Cowell’s ‘ Sarv. Dar. . Sang. *, p. 200,. 
and * Mahabh. Shanti Parva * quoted 
at p. 90 of Max Muller’s * Six systems 
Ind. Phil.* 



*36 


THE GREAT ENIGMA. 


[CHAP. III. 


which all activities proceed ; ” when in other Upanishads, too, it is 
said that Brahma “thought and willed to become many and accord- 
ingly became many 1 , they used a language which, to say the least, 
was highly suggestive. 

This idea of the Word (Thought and Will), says Max Muller 2 , is 
u not a cobweb or a metaphysical dream of abstruse philosophy ; it 
is one of the most natural, and most accurate, nay, most true concep- 
tions of the creation of the World.” 


The idea signifies the unity of thought and sound — a thought con- 
ceived and carried out. As in Plato’s system, the Universe is but 
a copy of the Divine Idea, so the universe, in this view of the Vedanta , 
is v&ch&rambhanam vikaro namadheyam 3 , which literally means that 
it is a modification or change originating in the Word and specialised 
by Name and Form. In other words, “ the Unmanifest became 
manifest by name and form 4 ”. “ I am one, let me be many,” &c. 

So, too, as to Emanation. This conception is intimately connected 
with that of the Word, on the one hand, and Evolution ( parindm ), 
on the other. It is highly suggestive of the modern theory of Evo- 
lution. It implies, with the Veddnlin ) that Brahma, through the 
laws of its own being, throws itself into manifestations on itself. The 
Vedantin illustrates this idea by the similes of a spider and its web, 
the hair and nails growing on an animate body, the sea and its waves 
and foams, the sun and its rays playing on the rippling water. But 


1 See also Ved. Sutr. 1, 1, 5, and 
Shankar’s Gloss thereon, S.B.E., Vol. 
34, pp. 47-48. 

2 See Max Muller’s “Theosophy,” p. 
382. See also pp. 380-3. 

8 See Shankar’s Gloss on Ved. Sutr* 
II, 1, 14, S.B.E., Vol. 34, p. 321. 

4 Compare Kant’s “ Matter and form.’ 
Matter is that which gives the sensation 
(Rupa ?) and Form is the “relation 
under which we consider the percep- 
tions of our senses, in order to co-ordinate 
them, . . it is only a law inherent in 

the nature of our mind, by which we 
co-ordinate the impressions furnished by 
sensibility.” Time and Space are the 
forms, that is to say, the relation which 
we conceive between objects, in order 
to co-ordinate them. In themselves 
they are nothing, but the mind could 
not represent phenomena except as 
successive and objects except as juxta- 


posed. “ Kant’s System,” Madras Edn. 
p.14. 

s Seo the same simile employed by a 
modern writer ; “ an infinite and eternal 
ocean upon whose surface arise a num- 
berless variety of forms, from tiny bub* 
bles to little ripplets, and from these 
again, to huge and mighty waves. Yet 
from the ocean they arise ; upon its 
surface they are borne; back into its 
depths must they be merged. Water they 
are, and water they will ever be. . . 

the forms or bodies of all things perish, 
they gradually change, then pass away. 
But the soul abides for ever.” ‘ Hist. 
Panth.’, Vol. 2, p. 317; cf. also ibid. p. 
322. “ All that is in God ; and nothing 
is, nor can be conceived to be, without 
God, so that modes are to substance 
very much what waves are to the sea, 
appearances on the face of reality not 
things apart from it, but merged in it. 



CHAP. III.] 


THE GREAT ENIGMA. 


37 


in doing so he does not predicate that what is thus let out is separated 
from Brahma , which is designated its cause. Like Sir William 
Hamilton, the Veddntin recognises an identity of existence in the 
effect and its cause — between causatum and cama. The effect is 
always latent in the cause ; the cause is identical with effect, kdrya 
Mr ana abheda. What Brahma manifests on itself as an activity was 
what, potentially, was contained in it 1 . 

The becoming many, says Shankar, does not relate to other things 
as in the case of begetting a son. The becoming many is by jnani- 
f estation in name and form of that which existed in it, but in its un- 
manifested condition. When the name and form, which exist in it un- 
manifestcd, unfold, then the name and form unfold in all situations, 
without abandoning their original nature and without being divided 
from Brahma , either in space or in time ; and this manifestation 
of name and form is the Brahma's becoming many 2 . 

The Indian Vedanta is not unique in its theory of Emanation. It 
found favour with some of the most eminent Christian philosophers 
and German mystics ; the names of Thomas Aquinas, Eckhart, Tauler, 
for instance, may be mentioned in this connection. And though this 
theory is inconsistent with Hebraic cosmogony as given in the Book 
of Genesis, it seems in no way incompatible with the spirit of the 
New Testament 3 . 

The Indian Veddntin repudiates the unscientific conception of 
creation, which implies, first, a creation out of nothing, and, secondly 
the separation of the Creator from His creation, and which, thirdly, 
in this implication, leaves unexplained the organic growth and devel- 
opment of the Universe. 

The Veddntins , especially those who advocate the theory of Ema- 
nation or Evolution (parindm), maintain (what science has also proved) 
that nature is not created, but begotten with the elements of life and 
growth inherent in it, no external impulses being necessary for its 
development. The whole cosmos is a living organism — one life pervad- 

1 Ved. Sutr., II, I, 15-20. of Plotinus by Edward Oaird, see “ Evol. 

a See Taitt. Up., II. 6. Madras Trans- Greek Theol.,” pp. 253-7 ; where Dr. Caird 
lation, pp. 167-8. The objection, that a PP oars to unnecessarily severe m his 
such a conception is out and out panth- criticism. 

eistic, is answered below. For a * See Max Muller’s ‘ Theosophy or 
discussion of the question of one and Psychological Religion,” pp. 296-7. 
many in connection with the philosophy 



38 


THE GREAT ENIGMA. 


[CHAP. III. 


ing all and connecting all, from the highest to the lowest order of 
beings, in such defined relations to each other as to show intelligence 
and purpose. All “threaded on the Lord, as jewels on a string” 1 . The 
regularity, says Shankar, with which everything in nature performs 
its functions argues an intelligent controller 2 . 

The third conception recognised by the Vedanta as furnishing an 
explanation of the phenomenal world is that of Maya , the enlightened 
dtma shakti or power of Brahma . 

This word Mdyd plays a most important part in the philosophy of 
the Advaita VedAnta ; and it is this word which has misled foreigners, 
and even puzzled, in a manner, the Indian mind, the greatest blunder 
in this connection being, that it is associated with the idea of illusion 
as meaning a positive blank. 

This word occurs in the Eig Veda, where it seems to have been used 
in the sense of intelligence (pradnyd). In the Nirukta of Yaska it is 
used to denote the intelligence through which all things are measured 
and comprehended. In a few places it is also used to denote “ a 
wonderful power ” — the wonderful power of the Grand Architect 
of the Universe 3. 


And although the word does not occur in the principal Upanishad 
except in the Swetasvatar and Maitrayani and in one place in the 
Brihad — Aranyak 4 , it has its germ in the Vedas 5 . 


^ Bhag. Git., VII, 7. 

2 Taitt, Up., II, 8. 

3 The view propounded here is con- 

firmed by Gough in his ‘ Phil. Up.' where 
he says, Mdyd is part and parcel of the 
primitive Indian cosmological concep- 
tion as exhibited in the Upanishads 
themselves, [and Colobrooke is wrong 
in imagining that it is a later graft upon 
the old Vedantic philosophy]. The 
Ndsadiya SAkta ( ) Rig 

Veda, X, 129 and a number oi passages 
from the principal Upanishads are quoted 
by Gough to show Colebrooke’s error, 
which error, he says, has arisen from Cole- 
brooke’s reliance on a passage from 
Vidny&na Bhikshu, an opponent of the 
Veddntin . Gough positively asserts that 

the tenet of Mdyd is no modern inven- 
tion ; the thought, if not the word, is 
everywhere present in the Upanishads, as 
an inseparable element of the philosophy, 
and the word itself is of no infrequent 
occurrence; • . . there has been no 
addition from without, but only a devel- 


opment from within ; no graft but only a 
growth . (p. 248) . . . what has been 

implied has become moro explicit (p. 258). 
The Ndsadiya SAkta seems to be the 
earliest announcement of the eternal 
coexistence of a spiritual principle of 
reality and an unspiritual principle of 

unreality (p. 241) Shankara- 

charya was right in holding it for such, 
and his philosophy is the philosophy of 
the Upanishads themselves, only in 
sharper outlines and in fresher colours. 
The Vedanta has a just title to be styled, 
as it is styled, the Aupanishadiya Mu 
mdnsd (p. 237). The italics are the 
author’s. See also ibid. pp. 15 and 81, and 
the whole of chap. IX. As to the origin 
of the doctrine of Mdyd , cf. also Deus- 
sen’s ‘ Phil. Up.’ pp. 42, and 226-235. 
Cf. also “ Aspects of the Vedant,” p. 39. 

4 See S. B. E., Vol. 34, introd. p. 
cxvii, note. 

6 See H. H. Wilson’s “ Essays on the 
Religion of the Hindus” and Vol. VII, 
‘Brahmav&din,’ p. 260. 



CHAP. lit.] 


THE GREAT ENIGMA. 


39 


But, as correctly pointed out by M. Paul Regnaud, it was not pos- 
sible that it could receive any development till the subjective stage 
of philosophic thought was reached in India. As stated before, the 
idea, that two co-existing eternal principles of Spirit and Nature, 
Mind and Matter, would destroy the infinitude of both, is one which 
necessarily represents a later phase of thought, necessitating, on the 
part of the Idealist, the recognition of Spirit alone as an eternal 
principle to the exclusion of the other ; but this does not mean the 
denial of all reality to Nature. In fact, no idealist (except, perhaps, 
the Vidny&n V&dins in India) ever went this length. All that 
philosophic consistency required was to refuse it recognition 
as an eternal, independent reality, and to explain the whole 
problem of existence by a single principle, that is, in terms of the 
Atman . 

This phase of thought can be traced in the Bhagavat Gita and the 
Upanishads ; but it seems to have received, as the sequel will show, 
a consistent philosophic development at the hands of Gaudap&d and 
Shankar. 

In one sense Maya may be viewed like one of the infinite modes 
in the system of Spinoza — a sort of connecting link between the phe- 
nomenal world and the Supreme Essence — Absolute Thought and 
Being. But it is by no means a purely fictitious or artificial link# 
Brahma , for obvious reasons, has to be conceived as nirvikdra , as 
perfectly free from all attributes involving motion and change ; the 
whole function of “ letting out” the universe is, therefore, conceived 
as pertaining to that power called Mdyd , which is the illuminated 
dtma shakti of Brahma and ever inseparable from it, the intelligence 
observable in the moral order of the Universe being considered as 
due to the guidance of Brahma which is All Intelligence. Brahma 
itself being Eternal and as such not liable to any modifications or 
changes, the whole of the manifold finite existence is ascribed to this 
agency ; yet the unity of the Brahma is retained ; instead of conceiving 
the Absolute, like Aristotle, “ as unmoved yet moving 1 ,” the moving 
in this conception is supposed to be that of its own power, which is 
ever inseparable from it and which is ever under its own intelligent 
guidance. 


See Brihad. Up., IV. 34, quoted in Deussen's * Phil. Up./ pp. 135436, 



40 


THE GREAT ENIGMA. 


[CHAP. III. 


Such an idea of Mdyd may well stand comparison with the Nous 
in the system of Anaxagoras and Plotinus, or the Logos as an Emana- 
tion in the Johannine Gospel, or the Logos as the Second Person in 
the teachings of St. Paul. 

The word Mdyd has been variously described, but I take Shankar’s 
description of it, because it is his rigorous monism which has evoked 
much opposition to the Veddnta , and any justification of the Advait 
doctrine without an explanation of Shankar’s views would be incom- 
plete. He describes Maya thus : — 

“ It is a power of the Lord from which the world springs — the 
Divine Power in which names and forms (that is, all finite existences) 
lie unevolved, and which we assume as the antecedent condition 
of that state of the world in which names and forms are 
evolved .” 1 

Like the infinite moods in Spinoza’s system, Mdyd 2 is neither sal 
nor asat (real or unreal) — not sat , because it is not eternal but ever 


1 See Shankar’s Gloss on Ved. Sutra, 
1, 4, 9, S.B.E., Vol. 34 p. 255. The 
original is .* ^Tfr^I^qi 

Cf. Bhag. Git. 
XIV, 3. See also Wilson’s * Sankhya 
K£rika,’ section 22, n. Cf. an 
excellent description of Mdyd by 
the Marathi Poet R&md&s in his 
‘ Diisa Bodha,’ VI, 5 ; cf. also ibid. VII, 
1, verses 53 and following ; ‘ Brahma is 
without attribute, and form, Mdyd is 
endowed with both ; Brahma is infinite, 
Mdyd finite; Brahma immaculate 
and serene, Mdyd fleeting and 
restless ; Brahtna is without adjuncts, 
Mdyd is full of them ; Mdyd is visible, 
Brahma invisible; Mdyd perceptible, 
Brahma imperceptible ; Mdyd perish- 
able, Brahma imperishable; Mdyd 
groweth, Brahma waxeth not; Mdyd 
diminisheth, Brahma waneth not; Mdyd 
appealeth to the ignorant, Brahma at- 
tracts him not ; Mdyd is bom, Brahma 
is birthless ; Mdyd dieth, Brahma is 
deathless; Mdyd descendeth into 
cognition, Brahma is beyond cogni- 
tion; Mdyd fructifieth, Brahma doth 
not; Mdyd dissolveth, Brahma is in- 
dissoluble; Mdyd palleth, Brahma is a 
joy for ever; Mdyd changeth, Brahma 
is immutable; Mdyd acteth, Brahma 
is beyond all activity ; Mdyd assume th 
various forms, Brahma is formless ; 


Mdyd is of tho five elements, manifold, 
Brahma is one and otomal. . . 

Mdyd is spread everywhere enveloping 
the Brahma, the sage alone can pierce 
through the mist’. Cf. a modem 
writer’s explanation of Mdyd , Dr. 
Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘ S&dhana,’ pp . 
95 and the following — ED. 

3 An important function that M dyd 
has played in tho evolution of Indian 
Theology is that, acting with Brahma as 
its dtma shakti, it has made Brahma 
intelligible as a personal God to number- 
less devotees. This personal God is not a 
“ Myth ” as Prof. Pfleiderer and Gough, 
and other writers, similarly disposed, 
have ventured to describe, in their 
ignorance of the true working of the 
Hindu mind and feeling. See ‘ Pancha 
Dashi ’ III, 40. ‘ United with its own 
power ( Upddhi Shakti) Brahma ap- 
pears as Ishwara (Supreme Lord) ’ ; 

rrvs^7Tlvrci3tm^ sift ?wf 

See also Ved. Sutr., 1, 4, 3 and Shankar’s 
Gloss thereon, S.B.E., Vol. 34, p. 243, 
quoting from 4 Svet. Up./ IV, 10. 

(Know thou Prakriti is Mdyd , and the 
Great Lord he who is affected with 
Mdyd.) 

See also S.B.E., ibid* p. 329. — ED. 



CHAP. III.] 


THE GREAT ENIGMA. 


41 


changing — nor asat , in the sense of precluding all possibility of exist- 
ence in one’s experience, like the ‘ horns of a hare’, or ‘the son of a 
barren woman,’ while Mdyd is the cause of the world, which we see, 
and in which we experience the good and evil in it, pleasure and pain, 
&c. If it is neither sat nor asat , what then is it ? The answer is, 
it is inexplicable (anirvachamya) — a technical expression meaning 
a thing which appears in consciousness as something and, therefore, 
more than nothing, and which yet is proved by experience to be less 
than real, because transient or ephemeral 1 . 

But it is not an illusory nothing. It is a phenomenal something, 
having for its substrate the Eternal Absolute. It is the cause of a 
phenomenal world and not of a fictitious world. The world has a 
relative reality, dependent and resting on Brahma and never apart 
from or independent of it. 

This is what the Mdyd doctrine really means. It is, indeed, true 
that in course of time, from being the wonderful power of Brahma , 
the word naturally came to mean the work of that power, the universe 
and all of which knowledge is possible through the senses ; and inas- 
much as creation itself was a mystery presenting appearances which 
could not apparently be brought in harmony with the wisdom and 
goodness of the Supreme Being, the word also came to mean the 
natural incapacity of man to understand Nature in its true character. 
It thus became synonymous with cosmic nescience (Avidyd). 

In this view Mdyd is deemed to possess two powers, called dvarana 
(enveloping) and vikshepa (projecting), one enveloping the soul and 
giving rise to the conceit of personality, egoity (asmitd huddhi), and the 
other, projecting the phantasmagoria of a world, which man regards 
as external to himself 2 . 

Writers on the Vedanta say that Mdyd has a threefold aspect ; viewed 
in the light of the teachings of Shruti , it is unreal; viewed in the light 
of its nature, it is simply inexplicable; but from a practical or 
vyavahdric point of view, it is something existents. In other words, 
the universe, which has come into being by the play of the Mdyd is, 
for all practical purposes, real. 

1 See ‘Siddh&nta Mukt&vali,* p. 13, where the two powers of Mdyd 

note. explained. 

3 . See Ballantyne. See also Shankar’s 3 See ‘Pancha Das hi.* 

“ Viveka Chud&mani,” Verses 142-146, 



42 


THE GREAT ENTGMA. 


[OHAP. III. 


In Hegelian language 1 , Mdyd may be represented as the Not-Being 
of the Absolute Being ; the negative aspect explaining the Becoming . 
It moves ( sansarati ) and brings into existence the world which in the 
Veddnta is called Sansdra. In the language of the Vedanta , it is the 
power of Brahma to which the phenomenal reality of the world is due, 
and which thus renders the Unrelated and Absolute a Personal God 
in His relation to that world. “Brahma, in so far as it is associated 
with Mdyd ... is more properly called Ishvara". 2 

This idea is further developed and made practically intelligible 
in the religious ritual based on the teachings of the Veddnta . Mdyd 
is there personified as a goddess and a mistress of the Universe 3 . 
What she is made to say of herself it is very interesting to read : — 

That which exists in Brahma as the 4 I,’ that ancient I-ness I am. 
He who is the inner soul of all beings becoming 4 1 ’ is remembered 
as the Hari [God]. I am, therefore, that ancient I-ness of all beings, 
. . . God Narayan exists and I, the Luxmi, am His highest Idea, 

and the meaning of 4 1 ’ becomes accomplished when it is united 
with I-ness. That which takes rise from the idea of 4 1 ’ is known 
as the I-ness . . . . I do not exist without Him, nor He without 

me. We both exist together, depending upon each other. Know, 
therefore, that the relation between me and the Lord is that of Sub- 
stance and Quality. Without I-ness, the 4 1 5 deprived of its ex- 
pression, becomes meaningless ; and without the idea 4 1/ the 
I-ness, losing its support, becomes meaningless 4 . 

The above quotation, though from a work not connected with the 
Advaita system, is fully acceptable to Advaitins from a vyavahdric 
or practical point of view. Shankar himself calls Mdyd the Supreme 
shahti of the Supreme Lord, and extols her as a 44 goddess whose 
existence is^ inferred from her acts by the highest intellects only/’ 5 

It will appear from what I have said above that the result arrived 
at by the Mdyd doctrine is practically the same as in the case of the 
other two conceptions of the Word and Emanation. Whether the 


A See Haldane’s “Pathway,” II, pp. 
156, 157. 

* See Ved. Sutr. S. B. E., Vol. 34, 
introd. p. xxv. 

8 In the “ Ananda Lahari ” Shankar 
himself addresses the Goddess Mdyd cm 


the supreme Queen of the Parabrahma 

'T^rwsff.’ 

4 * Lakshmi Tantra,* quoted in Vol 
I Brahmav&din, p. 298. 

5 ‘Viveka Chud&mani* verse 101. 



CHAP. III.] 


THE GREAT ENIGMA* 


43 


explanation of the Universe is sought in the Word (Thought and Will), 
or in the conception of Emanation (Evolution), or in the conception 
of the Mdyd , the Brahma as a self-conscious spirit is ever present in 
its own manifestations on itself, that is, in every finite existence ; 
whether the universe be brought out in form by ekskan (thought and 
will), or “ let out of itself ” ( visrishti ) or brought into being by the 
play of the Mdyd , the Absolute Being and its manifestation (chit and 
jada) go hand in hand ; and though mentally distinguishable, the 
jada is never conceived as an unlike and separate entity existing in- 
dependently by itself. The two are one, not many 1 . There is chai - 
tanya , the Brahmic element, everywhere, and it is in this sense that 
what is called Matter is considered not dead. There is what may be 
termed Brahmic vitality in it— a vitality, which manifests 
itself, in its own way in accordance with its own laws, in such 
degrees of activity apparently, that one might with truth join 
with Schelling in saying that the feeling of life wakes in man, 
dreams in animals, slumbers in plants and sleeps in stones. Shankar 
expresses this very idea in his bhdshya on Ved. Sutr . I. 1-11, as 
follows : — 

Although one and the same self is hidden in all beings, movable 
as w r ell as immovable, yet owing to the gradual rise of excellence of 
the minds which form the limiting conditions of the Self, Scripture 
declares that the Self, although eternally unchanging and uniform, 
reveals itself in a graduated series of beings, and so appears in forms of 
various dignity and power 2 . 

Such are the explanations suggested by the Vedanta of the problem 
of the Universe. It might, perhaps, be urged that they are not all 
consistent with each other, inasmuch as rigorous monists like Shankar 
object to the Word and Emanation theories as implying an, activity 
and consequent changes (vikdr) in Brahma ; but this inconsistency 
is more apparent than real. For under the vivarta theory, too, which 

1 Ved. Sutr. S. B. E. Vol. 34, p. 106. a scientific truth, for if the entire cos- 

a Ibid. p. 63. cf. Shankar on Brihat. mos is arl organism and an organism 

Up. ‘Life is everywhere, and not small im P liea . * g row * h fror * ™* hm > a11 
or large according to the size of the body.’ potentialities— from the lowest to the 

Cf. ‘ Ait. Aranyaka ’ which in II. 3, 2, highest— must be in ail beings from the 

speaks of the gradual development of commencement, and capable of deve- 

the self. See S.B.E. Vol. I, p. 222. lopment accordmg to the environment 

See also Lilly’s ‘ Ancient Religions,’ in . eac Jl one ma y from tlme to 

pp. 340-42. And it is undoubtedly time find itself* 



44 


THE GREAT ENIGMA. 


[CHAP. III. 


such Advaitins advocate, they are bound to recognise a kind of activity, 
sattd pradatvam in Brahma. Their theory of appearances (vivarta 
vdda) is that these appearances are due to Mdyd , the inherent and 
inseparable power of Brahma. A vivart , say they, is no reality exist- 
ing apart from its substrate ; it is nothing but the substrate itself, 
which in some inexplicable way appears under a diSerent form, that 
form disappearing on the realisation of the true nature of the sub- 
strate. This substrate is called adhishthana , which is described as 
sattd pradam J , giving existence to that which it pervades and making 
it appear in consciousness 1 2 * . 

Besides, as stated before, Shankar does not say that the explanations 
suggested by the conceptions of the Word and Emanation are invalid, 
but having himself assumed an agnostic attitude by his theory of 
unaccountableness (anirvachaniyata), he thinks that the explanations 
based on the Word and Emanation theories, are rather metaphorical, 
though well calculated to throw light on this abstruse problem of 
philosophy. In fact, Shankar himself in his writings has often sought 
to explain the problem by means of those theories3. 

In effect, therefore, all Vedantins are agreed that the Universe 
has its origin in Brahma — directly according to the theories of the 
Word and Emanation, or indirectly, through its inherent and in- 
separable power, the Mdyd. 

Still these questions remain : — How or why the One becomes Many ? 
How or why the Infinite becomes the finite, to return again into itself 
and become Infinite in the course of evolution and development ? 
How or why 4 it appears to give birth to many things or to take many 
forms ? These questions, it must be confessed, must ever remain 
unanswerable by man with his limited intelligence. When the Ad- 


1 Even this Sattd Pradam quality, 

says Shankar, is not in Brahma. He 

refutes the illustration of the magnet 
and its proximity to iron, for this, in the 
ease of Brahma , would create a perma- 
nency of motion; and the permanency 
of such capability would imply the im- 
possibility of final release from Sarwdra. 
The highest self, which is the cause of 
the world, is characterized by non-acti- 
vity in its own nature, and at the same 
time, by a moving power inherent in 

Mdyd , and is thus superior to the soul of 


the Sdnkhyas. Cf. Shankar’s Gloss on 
Ved, Sutr. II, 2, 7, S.B.E., Vol. 34, p. 
37 1. See also ibid. p. 369. 

3 * Siddhanta Mukt&vali’, 168. 

3 Sec e.g.y Ved. Sutr. 1, 4, 3 and 
Shankar’s Gloss thereon. 

4 The mind must fulfil the nature of 
its being and realize its own end. Then 
you have the why of the process 0 f 
finitude. See Haldane’s “ Pathway^* 

II, 115, 110, < ’ says “Mand. 

Up.” 



CHAP. III.] THE GREAT ENIGMA. 46 

vaitin relies upon his theory of unaccountableness or the doctrine 
of the Inscrutable Maya or Avidyd , he simply disguises but does not 
explain the problem. It is rather a confession of man’s incapacity 
to offer a complete solution. Whether we adopt one view or another 
of the three suggested solutions under B. 1-2-3, 1 we have either 
to leave unexplained the inscrutable working of the Mdyd 
or admit the possibility of the unchangeable ( nirvikdra ) 
Brahma becoming liable to changes, and leave this possibility 
unexplained 2 . 

Shankar admits that such questions are unanswerable, but he 
adds that they are likewise irrelevant — unanswerable, because truth 
is veiled by nescience, and we are thereby deluded 3 ; irrelevant, be- 
cause from the standpoint of the Absolute, there being no causation, 
no emanation, &c., which are purely time conceptions, these questions 
do not arisen 

The true position of the Advaitin , accordingly, is that though from 
our point of view the unity of One and Many is an inexplicable mys- 
tery, from the standpoint of the Absolute this antithesis of the One 


1 See supra p. 34. 

2 Edward Caird’s view on this point 
is worth quoting. He says, (Evol. 
Greek Thool., Vol. 2, p. 241) 

“ The pure self-consciousness of God 
.... cannot logically be conceived 
as going boyond itself to create the 
finito world of movement and change. 
For though tho latter involves the 
former as that on which it depends 
for its existence, the former cannot be 
regarded as involving tho latter, or as 
in any way essentially related to it. 
The world in time and space is a reali- 
sation of tho pure unity of thought in 
a matter in which it can never be 
perfectly realized ; but the existence 
of such matter seems in no way to be 
accounted for by the purely ideal 
principle of thought [but see tho 
Author’s note at pp. 49 & 60 infra]. 
Thus we are obliged to refer the world 
to God, but God seems by His nature 
to have no need of the world, and, 
indeed, to be incapablo of acting upon 
it. In short, there seems to be no 
reason for the existence of the world 
at all — except the presupposed matter, 
which, if it exists, cannot but come 
under the dominion of the universal 


principle in so far as its nature 
admits ” . . . “A further regress 

becomes necessary [at this stage]. 
The Stoics sought to fortify tho indi- 
vidual against all the chances and 
changes of the world by teaching him 
to rotiro into himself, and to treat 
everything that was not in his power 
as unnecessary and without value for 
him. ... To live in harmony with 
nature, both with the nature of the 
world without and with the nature 
of the self within, meant nothing more 
than to treat every particular object 
and end as indifferent, and to fall back 
upon the simple ‘I am I ’ of self-con- 
sciousness as complete in itself and self- 
sufficient” (ibid. p. 242). Here Ed- 
ward Caird harps upon the same 
string as Ferrier and Hegel — Synthesis 
of subject and object— completeness of 
both in case of severance, to illustrate 
the process of thought by which the 
stoic gave rise to the Neo Platonic 
philosophy, (ibid. pp. 243, 248). 

8 Bhag, Git. V. 15 .See also Shankar’s 
“Sw'dtma Nirupana,” (verse 93), 
quoting from Sacchiddnand Swdmi. 

4 See the authorities cited in note 2 at 
p. 34 supra. 



46 


THE GREAT ENIGMA. 


[chap. in. 


and Many is nothing \ The One is One, though it appears to be Many, 
as the sun with its reflections in water 2 “ Brahma is really One” says 
Shri Krishna3 to Arjun, “ and indivisible, though to individual crea- 
tures it appears as inhering in them in a state of division.” 

This problem of existence is as old as man, and every philosopher 
has tried to explain it. It is impossible to refer in this article to all 
the attempted solutions which I have noted in the course of my 
reading. But as I am chiefly concerned here with Hegelianism, I 
must refer to Hegel’s views on the subject. 

Absolute Pure Being, according to Hegel, is the pulse of actual 
living thought, which in its movement is adequate for its own internal 
realisation, and which again sunders into an external realisation. All 
things are thus resolvable into thought. This, says Dr. Stirling, is 
the secret of Hegel’s dialectic. This is the Absolute Idealism of 
Hegel 4 . 

Dr. Stirling has endeavoured to render Hegel’s philosophy intel- 
ligible by the following metaphor, which is nearly on the lines of the 
Indian Veddnta . 

“ Suppose all that existed in the world were a single drop of water 
— space and its contents retracted into that. Well, evidently, seeing 
that it is only one drop that is concerned, there is no room for any 
considerations of size. It is indifferent whether we figure the drop as 
a pin’s point, or a pin’s head in magnitude. This drop, then, shall be 
the Absolute. But this drop now is not more one than it is many . It 
is a drop, a one, a single entity; and yet, whether it be infinitely small 
or infinitely large, being a water drop, it consists of an infinitude of 
drops each of which is a one — a drop, quite as much as the original, 
though only subordinate and dependent. Now, even so I can figure 
Spirit and Spirits, the monad and the monads. Then further, if 
we conceive that these spirits, monads, droplets, are not externali- 
ties but intemalities — there is room for the additional conception 
of each of them, the individual droplets and the universal drop, 
being phenomenally, say in the manner of a shadow, sundered, or 
projected into externalities, an external world, which should appa- 

** 0/. Deussen’s ‘Metaphysics ’,182. 8 Bhag. Git. XIII, 16 and 17. 

* 9 CL Shankar’s introdn. to ‘Svet. 4 Schweglar’s ‘Hist. Phil,’, pp. 431- 

Up.’ 432 



CHAP, III.] 


THE GREAT ENIGMA. 


47 


rently surround all and each of them, though they themselves were 
self-retained. ‘And God said, Let there be light, and there was 
light * : the summed internality saw before itself, still self-retained, 
its own self externalised and constituting in the fashion of externality, 
a boundless out and out of contingent, material, infinitely various 
atoms, into which fell, however, as principle of retention, the 
shadow of the original tree of intellect. 

Friendless was the mighty Lord of all, 

And felt defect. . . 

From the cup o’ th’ realm of spirits 
Foams now infinitude ”. 1 

“ Nature, according to Hegel, is potentially reason, but only through 
the spirit does this inherent rationality become actual and apparent. 
Spirit has the certainty which Adam had when he saw Eve. This 
is the flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone. For Nature is in like 

manner the bride to which Spirit is wedded The inner heart 

of Nature is nothing but the universal ; hence when we have thoughts, 
we recognise in Nature’s inner heart only our own reason, and feel 
ourselves at home there ”. 2 * 

It would thus appear that the position of the Indian Advaitin in 
suggesting Atman as the solution— the universal mind or spirit — as 


1 . Schweglar’s ‘ Hist. Phil.* pp. 442-3. 
The reader is specially requested to 
compare the above with Shankar’s 
passage quoted from ‘ Tait. Up.’ II. 6. 

“ The Atman , All-Light, imagines Him- 
self by Himself, through the power of 
His Mdyd. He Himself cognises the 
objects so sent forth.” ‘ Mmdukya 
Up.’ II. 12. The self as the substantial 
cause becomes tho self of the 
effect. Ved. Sut. I. 4, 26. Cf. an 
apposite passage in 4 Brihad. Up.’ 
“ Brahma felt itself lonely ; it 
said let me have a spouse and pro- 
geny.” According to the old Chris- 
tian Theology, says Mr. G. Tyrrell 
commenting on Campbell’s ‘ Now 
Theology’ in the Hibbert Journal for 

July 1907, p. 919, God felt Himself 
lonely and hence He “ limited Himself 
continuously to become conscious of His 
endless possibilities. Man is limited by 
his environment, through conflict with 

which he learns his own latent possi- 
bilities ; but this voluntary self-limi- 


tation on the part of the Infinite in 
search of self realisation suggests a 
wilful tying of knots for the sake of 
untying them, and in order to kill the 
ennui of eternal solitude . . . It cannot 
be said that the Now Theology belittles 
Christ, except so far as by raising us 
all to the dignity of incarnate deity, 
it threatens His essential and eternal 
pre-eminence. If we are but organs 
or parts of the All which is God, if He 
is as much the subject, the doer of 
what I do, as I am tho doer of what 
my hand does, if my Self is identically 
the eternal Self, then I seem to stand 
as high as the Old Theology placed 
Christ.” 

3 . 4 Hegel’s Works,’ VII. 22, quoted 
in Prof. Seth’s ‘ Hegelianism and Per- 
sonality,’ p. 128. Other passages which 
are quoted by Prof. Seth at pp. 112 and 
144 are highly suggestive of the Indian 
ideas of Emanation, itc&hana (thought 
and will) and Mdyd ; The passages are 
too long for quotation here. 



48 


the great entgma. 


[chap, iii< 


the connecting link between God, Man, and Nature, is at least intel- 
ligible and not the outcome of “ unbridled madness/’ At all events, 
it does not lie in the mouth of Hegelians to stigmatise it thus. When 
the Admitin says that the world is only an appearance due to some- 
thing inexplicable, and that nothing exists apart from and independ- 
ent of Brahma , he uses the language of philosophy and distinguishes 
between what is necessarily true for all possible intelligences, and 
what is only contingently and relatively so to us, and to intelli- 
gences like our own. The world as we see it may be and is to us a reality, 
but not to all possible intelligences. Higher intelligences, and even 
man on higher planes of thought, may find this “ petrified spirit ” 
(to use Hegel’s expression for Nature) quite melted in the presence 
of the highest philosophic truth, which is All-Thought, All-Effulgence, 
Universal Sentiency 1 * * . 


Whether the Advaitin is right or not in his view, this much I may 
venture to assert — that if ever a correct and complete solution of the 
problem is possible, it could only be in a system from which the anti- 
thesis between Spirit and Nature, Mind and Matter has disappeared. 
Modem European philosophy, which is greatly influenced by the 
Cartesian school of thought, can never hope to obtain that solution. 
Where a sharp line of distinction is drawn between these two appa- 
rently opposed entities, where Nature and Spirit, Matter and Mind 
are viewed as absolutely independent of each other, where matter is 
considered lifeless and spiritless, it is impossible to get a nexus to 
connect the two, and the only way by which to bridge over the chasm, 
so arbitrarily created between the two, is by a recourse to an equally 
arbitrary idea of creation out of nothing, by the arbitrary will of 
an outside God, to whom nothing is impossible. But this is disguising 
what cannot be explained. 

If Absolute Existence and Intelligence is a position which is ac- 
ceptable to modern philosophy, it must follow that whatever has come 
into being by its intelligence must partake of the character of that 

1 See 4 M&nd. Up.* IV. 89, and follow- disillusioning power of reason has 
ing, and see Shankar’s Gloss thereon: anticipated in a deeper way the physi- 

Cf, also J. Caird’s ‘ Spinoza,’ pp. 291- cal disintegration of death.” The 

29 2, where he says “For the mind same process is described by the 

that se$s things under the form of Mardthi saint R4md£s in his 4 D&sa 
eternity, the body as a phenomenon Bodka’ as Viveka-Pralaya (dissolu- 
in time has already vanished, the t ion bv the power of Reason). 



OHAP. III.] 


THE GREAT ENIGMA. 


49 


Absolute Being. If the Absolute Being is a spirit, the character of 
the universe must be spiritual ; and, however unwilling we may be 
to accept the situation, we are bound to recognise its spiritual character. 
If Evolution is a scientific fact, we are bound to acknowledge that 
there is a unity of method running through the entire universe of 
mind and matter, and that what we call matter manifests marvel- 
lous capacities which are inherent in it ; the old notion of matter 
being inert and dead must now be abandoned as scientifically un- 
tenable. If life is at last coming to be recognised as inherent not only 
in the animal 1 and vegetable kingdoms, but in the mineral kingdom 
also, the day is not far distant when this antithesis of Spirit and Nature 
will, for the philosopher 2 , altogether vanish. One might well say 
with Lilly’s Damon that “ the old wall of partition between spirit 
and matter is breaking in all directions. I think I already hear 
the sound of the trumpets before whose blasts it is doomed to 
fall.” 3 


1 Cf. Shankar’s view that animals 
have souls and the five Sheaths 
4 Taitt. Up.,’ II. 3, Madras Edn., p. 149. 

fl This is exactly what happened to 
the Indian philosopher ages ago. Even 
such a writer as Gough, who is generally 
unsympathetic in his treatment of the 
Veddnta and is fond of using expressions 
like fiction, fictitious, illusion, etc., with 
reference thereto, has to admit (See p. 50 
of his 4 Phil. Up.’) that the unreality 
of the world maintained by the Veddnta 
is an unreality for the philosopher intent 
on the one and only truth, relatively a 
reality for the Multitude, to whom the 
world exists with all its possibilities of 
pain. To him that sees the truth, all 
these bodies and their environments will 
disappear, merging themselves into that 
fontal essence, and the self will alone 
remain, a fullness of unbroken and un- 
mingled bliss (ibid. p. 57). See also 
Shankar’s view as to the correspondence 
between nature and spirit in his 
4 V£kya Sudhd,’ verses 41, 42 : 

Carlyle, with the true vision of a 
seer, appears to have realized that 
“ this solid-Seeming world is but an 
air-image over Me, the only reality. 
.... All visible things are emblems; 
what thou seest is not there on its 
own account ; strictly taken, it is not 
there at all. Matter exists only spiritu- 
ally, and to represent some idea and 
body it forth.” 

4 


3 Lilly’s 4 Ancient Rel.,’ p. 340. It 
is interesting to note in this connection 
what views have been variously taken 
about Matter by European thinkers in 
modem times. Some say that it is 
spirit in its lowest form of self -manifes- 
tation. Nature is petrified spirit, says 
Hegel. It is spirit visible, says Schelling. 
Spinoza, Leibnitz and Kant, too, took a 
like view. Others say that matter .1 
simply the result of a play of forces-— v 
that it ia 44 nothing more than an ag- 
gregation of minute electrical charges.” 
Prof. Gates of Washington says that 
consciousness (sentiency) is “eternally 
a condition or property of what fills 
space, and must consequently be uni- 
versal in space.” Haeckel, a scientific 
philosopher, is of opinion that matter 
has sensation and will, as latent potentia- 
lities in embryo from the very beginning. 
(See Theosophical Review for 1900, 
pp. 553-4) Huxley attempted to express 
all knowledge in materialistic phraseo- 
logy, but he took care to explain that 
he regarded such phraseology as in 
reality 4 a sort of shorthand idealism.’ 
He maintained that what we call the 
material world is only known to us under 
the forms of the ideal world, and the 
very existence of matter and force is 
at best a highly probable hypothesis, 
that our certain knowledge does not go 
beyond our states of consciousness, that 
our oertainty is the certainty of ths 



BO 


THE GREAT ENIGMA 


[chap. m. 


The gap 1 which appears to exist between Spirit and Nature must 
disappear when it is recognised that all is Life (dtmari). Atman and 
Atman alone in that case would be the mediating link connecting 
all that appears “ differentiated in name and form.” This is the 
rock on which the Indian systems are built ; this is the rock on which 
the Advaitin takes his stand. 

As in the world of Sense, so in the world of Spirit, new truths are 
coming to light. The researches of the Psychic Research Societies 
and other scientific bodies are bringing to light some extraordinary 
powers of the human mind, and there is no saying to what extent 
the theories of knowledge now current in Europe may be affected 
by the new discoveries. As these discoveries, so far as they have been 
made and verified, confirm some of the results arrived at in India 
some three thousand years ago, may we not hope that the Advaita 
doctrine of the Vedanta will find a scientific confirmation at last ? 


mental World (Flint’s * Agnosticism,’ 
pp. 355-6). The new conceptions of 
thought and sound — of thought waves 
and thought forms, the multiplicity of 
forms depending on the variety of 
sound — may likewise be mentioned here, 
in this connection. Some of these ideas 
may, indeed, be supposed as suggestive 
of materialism ; but if they indicate only 
a play of spiritual energy, would that 
objection have any validity? The ex- 
planation of the problem would still 
be in terms of the mind (Spirit). See 
Flint’s ‘Agnosticism,’ pp. * 355-356, 
and 572-3, where he points out how un- 
fair it is to describe men like Huxley 
and Spencer as materialistic. See ‘Hist. 
Panth.,’ p. 299. 

1 How this gap is being fast bridged over 
by modem European thought is shown by 
Clifford Harrison in his “ Notes on the 
margins,” pp. 143-49, which are an 
extremely suggestive reading. The whole 
passage is too long for quotation here, but 
a short extract may be subjoined. “Are 
we not misled ” [in regarding matter and 
spirit as ever distinct and separable] 
“ by our notions of what matter is ? 
We are apt to think of it as something 
gross,* tangible, palpable some- 
thing to be cognized by the senses 
of touch and sight. We do not suffi- 
oiently realize even the more ethereal 
forms of matter of which science herself 
tells us — nay, of which we ourselves 
have daily experience, as in scent, in 
the air, and in many material forms which 


escape detection by our ordinary sense.” 
The author then proceeds to show, with 
the help of instances of objects like 
Crookes’ vacuum tubes and the tail of 
a comet, how the old test of grossness, 
tangibility or palpability has to be 
largely modified. The author con- 
cludes by pointing out that even such 
a seemingly dead and inert object as a 
rusty piece of old iron is responsive to 
laws which have great affinity with those 
governing human life, thought and action. 
“ Thus even in the bit of rusty iron we 
approximate the idea of life very closely, 
if we only look deep enough. And who 
can say that if we could look, in inverse 
ratio, as deeply into human thought and 
action, we should not find an answering 
process, approximating matter at last 
quite as closely as the iron approxi- 
mates life ? Both are manifestations 
of one force — movement. Let us have 
the courage of our convictions, and, 
running before science a little way (in the 
wise fashion of children ?), own that 
“ matter ” and “ spirit ” are one and 
the same, in different degrees and under 
many expressions, obeying one law.” 
Cf. also “ Zero’s ” article in ‘ East 
and West’ for 1905, pp. 81-83, and 
another article in “The Ary a” for 
July 1906, showing “life in matter;” 
Cf. also an article in the “ Monthly 
Review” for September 1905, en- 
titled “ Can plants feel ” ; ana the 
discoveries of Dr. J. C. Bose in this 
behalf. 



CHAPTER IV. 


KNOWING AND BEING . 1 

Professor Ferrier, in his Institutes of Metaphysic, remarks that 
the mistake which the Ancient Greeks committed in their philoso- 
phical investigation was, that they began enquiry into the question 
of Being before an enquiry into the question of Knowing. The right 
course to pursue was to arrive first at a correct theory of Knowledge, 
and with that view to ascertain first what we do , as a fact, know, and 
what we can never possibly know, and then, in the light of what we 
thus discover, find out what is. The theory of Being, thus arrived at, 
becomes a reasoned and demonstrated truth and not a mere surmise. 

Whatever may be said of Ancient Greece in this connection, it 
does not appear likely that Indian Epistemology was guilty of that 
fault in its method. It must be remembered that Ancient India 
had reached what is called the third or subjective stage of philoso- 
phic thought ; and the great peculiarity of the Indian Advaita is that 
it starts with the Self as the highest ground of certitude ; for though 
everything else might be doubted, the doubter could not doubt him- 
self (Shankar’s Bodharya). 

The Veddnt fully recognises that in every cognition the Self is a 
necessary and invariable element 2 . Professor Ferrier characterises 
this truth as “ the fundamental necessity to which all intelligence 
is subject in the acquisition of Knowledge.” It is, says he, the pri- 
mary canon in the code of Reason . 3 

Shankar has, again and again, emphasised this truth in almost 
the same manner as Professor Ferrier has done. He often com- 
plains that “ our intellect is quite engrossed in external objects, and 
that we do not properly investigate into the right sources of Know- 
ledge.” The Self (he says) is self-proved ; it is not a thing unknown 

1 Originally contributed to * East and 2 Bhag. Git. II, 16. 

West ’ for 1906, pp. 164-172 and pp. 662- , Ferrier > s « Met.’, p. 80* 

673. 



KNOWING AND BEING. 


[CHAP. IV. 


to anybody at any time ; it manifests itself equally in all objects of 
perception. There is no need for any external authority by which to 
define the Self, which is even more immediate to us than our body — 
no effort is needed for knowing the Self ; it is needed only to remove 
the error of identifying the Self with the Not-Self i * * * * * * * * x . Its existence is 
not inferred by any syllogistic process, but felt and recognised as a 
metaphysical fact from which there is no escape 2 . In the language 
of the Ved&nta it is jyratibodhaviditam . It is a postulate of Know- 
ledge. It is the root of experience and makes experience possible ; 
it is that which alone unifies all experiential knowledge. 

In the language of Professor Max Miiller3, “ it is an iEstheton ; 
it is felt , man being in constant contact with it ; and this contact is 
the only legitimate basis on which the Infinite can and does exist 
for us.” 

The Indian Veddntin thus starts with the Self as the surest ground 
of certitude, appeals at every step to the facts of experience, (under- 
standing that word in its largest signification) and reaches his 
conclusions on that basis. He makes no assumptions as working 
hypothesis, and his speculations, thus reasoned out, promise to be 
confirmed by Science. 

The highest truth which the Indian Advaitin has reached in his 
philosophical research is that Atman (Self) and Atman alone is 
the ultimate Reality and, apart from it and independent of it, 
nothing is. 

This position, though it is not acceptable to a large body of 
European thinkers, in its pure form, is one which can be 
established by the very method, which thinkers like Professor 
Ferrier have admitted to be the correct method to follow in the 
search of truth. 


i See Bhag. Git. XVIII, 50-51, and 

Ved. Sutr. II, 3, 7 ; and Shankar’s Gloss 

thereon, S. B. E. Vol. 38, p. 14: — “ for 

the knowledge of the Self is not, in any 

person’s case, adventitious, not esta- 

blished through the so-called means of 

right knowledge ; it rather is Self esta- 

blished. The Self does indeed employ 

perception and the other means of 

right knowledge for the purpose of 
establishing previously non-established 


objects of knowledge; but the 

Self, as being the abode of the energy 
that acts through the means of right 
knowledge, is itself established pre- 
viously to that energy.” 

3 ‘ Kena Up.* II, 4 ; see also Max 
Muller’s Translation, S. B. E. Vol. I, 
p. 149, note I. 

8 ‘ Orig. Rel.,’ pp. 48-9. 



CHAP. IV.] 


KNOWING AND BEING. 


63 


The crowning truths of Western Epistemology and Ontology, as 
enunciated by Professor Ferrier, are : — 

1. That every cognition is the synthesis of the Self and the Not- 
Self, of the Subject and Object, of the Universal and Particular. 1 

2. That there is one, but only one, Absolute Existence, which 
is strictly necessary , and that existence is a supreme, infinite and 
everlasting Mind in synthesis with all things. 2 * 

But do these propositions convey what philosophy ought always to 
be in search of ? Are they necessary truths in the form in which 
they are enunciated ? A necessary truth is that which is absolute 
truth — true to all possible intelligences. In the world as we find 
it, there i3 one element, the universal and eternal sat , which is ever 
present and without which the world itself would be an absolute non- 
entity. But is the other element also invariably present and true 
and as such necessary ? 

In the first place, is the synthesis of the two a philosophic neces- 
sity for the existence of the Absolute ? To us and to intelligences 
like our own, such a synthesis may be necessary as a condition of 
knowledge . I say may be, for I doubt whether the theory of Know- 
ledge, based upon “ sense-perception,” is quite correct or adequate 
to explain all knowledge. Professor Veitch says, and I think right- 
ly, that “ the laws of our knowing the objects in Time and Space 
are not necessarily the laws of our knowing all objects ”.3 

But whatever the truth about our cognition of the Absolute, is 
it not possible for that Absolute to exist independently of and with- 
out the world ? Is not the Absolute Being the prius of all things ; 
and is not its existence , at least, conceivable without its synthesis 
with those things ? If the things, here referred to, be what, according 
to Eckhart, constitute the ideal world not created in time, but ex- 
isting in an Eternal Now, still the question would remain — is this 
ideal world a necessity for the existence of the Absolute ? 

The position of the Advaitin is that Brahma alone is sat in the 
sense of Eternal 4 and all else is asat in the sense of being contingent 


1 See * Met.’, p. 156. 

54 Ibid. 522. 

* Veitch, “ Knowing and Being,” p. 3. 

4 Cf. Shankar’s “Tattva Bodha,” 
p. 27. “ What is Sat” — that which abides 
in all time (past, present and future). 


The original Sanskrit is worth quo- 
ting 

fit snj 

‘ giaww « i 



KNOWING AND BEING. 


54 


[CHAP. IV. 


and transient. Is it not possible to conceive the existence of the 
Absolute without its synthesis with the contingent asat. 

Herbert Spencer 1 admits that though the antithetical modes of 
consciousness, that is, a consciousness of the Absolute subject and a 
consciousness of the predicate cannot exist asunder, still this is not 
a reason for questioning the existence of the Universal Absolute ; it 
is rather the reverse. 

Similarly, Dr. Calderwood, in his " Limits of Religious Thought,” 
p. 200, says : “ The Absolute is that which is free from all necessary 
relations, that is, which is free from every relation as a condition of 
existence ; but it may exist in relation, provided that relation be not a 
necessary condition of its existence'' 2 A better definition of an Ab- 
solute Being (says Mill 3 ) could scarcely be devised. 

Then as to the cognition of the Absolute, it is admitted that the 
question is still undecided, “whether absolute truth can be apprehend- 
ed by itself or whether it must always be apprehended in union with 
relative truth.” 4 

The Advaitin asserts that the conception of One without a Second 
is not absolutely inconceivable ; he asserts that though Brahma is 
ordinarily incomprehensible, except through and in its relation to 
its manifestations, that is, in its synthesis with the Not-Self, its 
existence is conceivable and also capable of being realised by itself, 
even by man under certain conditions 5 , a fortiori, it must be concei- 
vable by higher intelligences than our own. 

In the first place, we are not justified in inferring a thing to be 
impossible, simply because of our inability to conceive its possibility. 
Hamilton and Mill both agree in saying so 6 . Experience shows that 
no limit can be set on the penetrating power of thought. Eminent 
thinkers like Herbert Spencer 7 have noticed the extraordinary capacity 
which man evinces in bringing long distances of Space and Time 
within intelligible reach. “ Environing objects and environing ac- 
tions, passing as they do into higher and higher complexities by grada- 


1 ‘ First. Prin.’ * See Bhag. Git. XIII ; for a more 

* The Italics are the author's see detailed reference to this, see infra. 

also pp. 63 and following infra , 6 Mill’s * Hamilton,* 82. 

* Mill’s ‘Hamilton,* 116 n. 71 Psychology,’ I, pp 304-12, 320-29. 

4 Perrier’s ‘ Or. Phil.’ pp. 28, 177, 178. 



OHAP. IV.] 


KNOWING AND BEING. 


66 


tions that are insensible, it is impossible (says he) to draw among 
them a line, up to which some alleged kind of intellectual process 
can go, but beyond which it cannot go.” 1 * 

The reason of this is that Knowledge is One, Eternal, and Infinite, 
and man has it already “ indelibly stamped,” as Hudson* observes, 
“ upon the tablets of the soul.” 3 * 

“ God,” says Green + , “ manifests himself in us. We are in our 
very essential nature the eternal consciousness, reproduced under 
limitations of time and animal organism, but retaining the essential 
characteristic of being out of time, as regards our knowledge — as 
regards that in virtue of which we are men. The potential content 
of our consciousness — knowledge— eternally exists in us as ideas — 
which we laboriously attain unto. What exists potentially we try 
to realise or actualise. What we call our mental history is not history 
of this (eternally complete) consciousness which in itself can have 
no history, but a history of the process by which the animal organism 
becomes its vehicle.” 5 

So, too, says Plato. Man is already in possession of ideas ; “ he 
is unconscious of their necessary and unfailing presence ” : “ they 
are in possession of him , rather than he of them,” and the hardest 
of all tasks is to make him aware of his possession. 6 - 

Mind, says Hegel 7 , is One and Eternal ; mind as a finite mind has 
no real existence ; and knowledge is simply the making explicit of 
what is implicit.8 

If it is true, as says Hudson^ that we are all God's creatures made 
after His image, it would seem to follow that we have received the 
whole message from God at once. Only owing to his limitations, 
man is not able to elevate the message above his own consciousness. 
He is incapable of becoming objectively conscious of what is going 


1 ‘ Psychology 1 1, p. 389. 

9 “ Scientific Demonstration of Future 
State,” pp. 92-93. 

* Cf. Shankar’s Gloss on * Prasn. Up.’ 
VI, 2, Madras Edn. II, 178. See also 

Socrates quoted in Noire, p. 42 ; 

of. also Emerson’s Suggestion that 

‘ truth is of immemorial age, and 

that our names and eras of origin are 
in reality but names and eras of 


development,’ Clifford Harrison’s 
‘Notes on the margin,’ p. 231. 

4 Fairbrother’s * Green,’ p. 49. 

6 Ibid . pp. 47-48. 

6 Ferrier’s ‘ Gr. Phil.,’ pp. 314-5. 

7 Haldane’s “ Pathway, ” II, p. 101. 

• Ibid. pp. 13, 207. 

9 u Scion. Dem. Fut. St.,” p. 92. 



86 KNOWING AND BEING. [CHAP. IV. 

on in his subjective mind, but the message is all there, only lying 
latent in his subliminal consciousness. 

The position of the Indian Advaitin must now, in the light of the 
above observations of eminent European thinkers, appear to be per- 
fectly intelligible. This is what Shankar says on the point. Know- 
ledge is not different from the Knowledge of the Self. This, in one 
sense, we already have ; as this consciousness is invariably present 
in every act of perception, thought or deed, all that is needed is to 
get rid of the upddhies, that is, of the finite categories and relation* 
belonging to what is conditioned, which hinder the full realisation of 
that Knowledge x . Knowledge is enveloped by Nescience, and thereby 
mortals are deluded, says the Bhagvat Gita 2 . 

But it is impossible to remove this veil of Nescience all at once. The 
development and perfection which have to be attained can be only 
gradual. The limitations due to the “ animal organism ” could 
be removed only by a gradual course of development. In our study 
of Nature we have necessarily to proceed from point to point, begin- 
ning with experience and the data of experience, and rising gradually 
from sensations to general principles, classifying the phenomena 
which come under our observation, learning to look at them from 
as many points of view as it may be possible to take, so as, in the 
long run, to rise above experience, above the external and accidental 
relations which belong to the sphere of the finite, and have, if possible, 
a grasp of the entire universe as a harmonious whole 3 , and, as the 
Advaitin might put it, rise still higher and reach the stage of com- 
plete self-realisation. 

The synthesis of subject and object which is a recognised truth of 
Western Epistemology, admittedly represents what is called the neces- 
sary minimum of knowledge, implying a possibility of indefinite enlarge- 
ment or expansion 4 . Both the terms in this theory may go on ex- 
panding till they become co-extensive. As empirical knowledge grows 
wider and wider, the individual personality of the knowing subject 
must become more and more expanded, the individual Self 5 , in the 

1 See Shankar's Gloss on Bhag. Git. following ; and Haldane’s “ Pathway ” 

XVIII, 60, Madras Edn., pp. 334 6. PP- 81 ' 84 ’ 13L 

a v l 5 * In the Veddnta , it is not the Self, 

* 10 ‘ but the intelligence or mind or the lower 

* C/. J. Caird’s ‘ Phil.,' pp. 177-203. or human egohood, that goes on thus 
4 Cf. Perrier's 4 Met.,’ p. 106 and expanding by experience. 



CHAP. IV.] 


KNOWING AND BEING, 


67 


language of Western thinkers, must become larger and larger in its 
development of self-consciousness ; its sphere of knowledge and aotivity 
must become enlarged, as the standpoints become higher and 
higher — more and more comprehensive. 

The process of development here indicated is not confined to the 
growth and development of the intellect alone. It indicates a corres- 
ponding growth and development of the ethical and spiritual element 
likewise. It is only then that all the standpoints from the side of 
the universe could be exhausted, and a complete mastery over nature 
gained. It means a complete tramformation 1 and regeneration 
of man. 

It is interesting to see how different this universe may possibly 
appear to intelligences higher than our own or to men with finer powers 
than we ordinarily possess. 

Kant holds that to an infinite intelligence the geometrical pro- 
perties, under which objects present themselves to us, are seen to be 
unreal. “ We suppose real things to lie apart from one another and 
to have figure and size ; but from the point of view of a wider intel- 
ligence, these properties are merely the manner in which we present 
things to ourselves, not the manner in which they actually exist. There 
is no other way in which we can be conscious of things than by 
exhibiting them as in space ; but this arises from a limitation which 
attaches to us as finite beings and which prevents us from knowing 
reality as it truly is. 2 * ” 

Bishop Berkeley, too, says as follows : — 

“ In proportion as the sense is rendered more acute, the object ap. 
pears greater and its figure varies ; those parts in its extremities, 
which were before unperceivable, appearing now to bound it in very 
different lines and angles from those perceived by an obtuser sense. 
And at length, after various changes of size and shape, when the sense 


1 The reader may refer to “In tfc$- 

Sanctuary ” by Van De Naillen, p. 
to have some idea of this transforma- 
tion. The Author says, inter alia , “ All 
changes, whioh the human mind under- 
goes, are accompanied by a correspond- 
ing change in the physiological condition 
oi the cells of his brain, ior brain cells 

are very important living entities, 

having birth and growth, and are subject 


laws of evolution, as well as all 
things in nature. All moral, men- 
Tor s piri tual discipline affeots these 
cells, |mps them higher qualities.” 

3 mmm 4 Out. Phil.*, p. 46. <*f. 

also, Perrier's ‘Gr. Phil.’, pp. 464*466, as 
to how our faculties are incompetent 
to inform us as to what a thing is in 





58 


KNOWING AND BEING. 


[CHAP. IV. 


becomes infinitdy acute, the body shall seem infinite. During all this 
time there is no alteration in the body , but only in the sense . Each body, 
therefore, considered in itself, is infinitely extended, and consequently 
void of all shape and figure. ... It is the mind that frames all that 
variety of bodies, which compose the /visible world, any one whereof does 
not exist longer than it is perceived. 1 ” 

It must always be borne in mind that Divine Intelligence is the 
inward life and reason of all things. 2 Thought and intelligence is 
presupposed in all objective reality. ... To deny this is to subvert 
the fundamental basis of all knowledge and to reduce the intelligible 
world to a chaos.3 

And what happens in every cognition is that the perceiving subject 
unites itself with the Self in the object perceived ; if the cognition, 
which ensues, be incomplete, that is, if the object perceived be not 
perceived in its entirety from all possible points of view, as is generally 
the case in ordinary human cognitions, the perception constitutes 
a mere act of perception, and the person perceiving (the jiva of the 
Vedanta system) is said to be merely a knower, and the dualism of the 
knower and the known continues. In the degree that the knower 
has entered into the spirit of the thing perceived, he is said to have 
known that thing, and in the degree that he has known it, he is at 
home with it, as Hegel might say.4 This is the meaning of the expres- 
sion that to know a thing is to become it. 5 

Knowing, says Dr. Buck 6 , is a progressive becoming, a continual 
transformation of motives, ideals and perception of the individual. 
It is such a progressive change or transformation of the original struc- 


1 * Berkeley,* p. 47 ; compare the investigated and explained by the 

Drishii Shrishti Vdda of the Indian Sciences of nature, the more must the 

Advaitin , who says that things do not human mind recognize it to be per- 

exist out of the sight of the seer. See vaded by thought akin to its own; 

Dvivedi’s Introd. Mknd. Up., p. XXIV. the more must the human spirit find 


2 Shankar’s Gloss on Ved. Sutr. I, 
1, II ; S. B. E. Vol. 34; and J. Caird’s 
‘ Spinoza.* 

* J. Caird’s 4 Phil. Bel.,* pp. 21-22. 


itself ‘ at home ’ therein ” ; “Agnos- 
ticism,” p. 267 ; see also pp. 365-7, 
672-3. 

Note that the highest knowledge is 
when the Self has the Self itself for its 


4 All ignorance of the object is ig- object. We consider it tautology to 
norance of Self, says Edward Caird, 2 say that the Self knows the Self — and 
Ward, 196. is knowledge itself. Hence we say 

• See Shankar’s Gloss on Ved. Sutra. that knowtod 8* is one attd infinite - 
n, 2, 28-30. S. B. E. Vol. 34. Cf. 8 “Mystic Masonry,” pp. 109-110. 
Elint 4 i remarks “ the more ac- Cf. ‘‘In the Sanctuary,** p. 47, quoted 
ourately and fully physical nature is supra p. 57, note 1. 



CHAP. IV.] 


KNOWING AND BEING. 


59 


ture as to make of it, at every step, a New Being. Real know- 
ledge or the growth of wisdom in man is an eternal becoming — a pro- 
gressive transformation into the likeness of the Supernal Goodness 
and the Supreme Power. And when the cognition is complete, the 
subject and object must become identical. The Self of the knowing 
agent and the Self in Nature would fully recognise each other, so to 
speak, and become One. What began, on the lower plane, with 
the synthesis of Self and Nature, which must co-operate to constitute 
Knowledge 1 would, in such a case, on the highest plane of thought, 
end in Unity or Identity ; the dualism of the Knower and the Known 
here would vanish ; and in such a case, says the Advaitin , self-realisa- 
tion would ensue. 2 

There would be no removal, in such a case, strictly speaking, of 
one of the terms which might be, according to European thinkers, 
the destruction of “ the whole datum of knowledge ” ; for, ex hy- 
pothesis man has here transcended the world of sense-experience, 
where alone the relations of externality and time conceptions reign 
supreme. Neither the ego nor the non-ego would be destroyed in 
this conception ; but the two would coalesce, so to speak, like the 
two reflections of the Sun (in a sextant) at its meridian. Here Intel- 
ligence would directly know itself to the fullest extent and true Reality 
would thus be reached. 3 

“Every form of Knowledge” (says a writer in the Hibbert Journal^ 
“ is different from every other in the degree of identification of the 
object in itself with the object for consciousness, and the only resting 
place for knowledge is where the agreement becomes absolute . Now, if 
knowledge deals solely with the Self which knows,- it is entirely self- 
constituted, self-determined, self-contained. To be completely 
self-sufficient, however, is precisely what is meant by being 
Absolute. Absolute Knowledge is the presence to consciousness of its 
own Self— Thought” 


1 Cf. Flint’s “Agnosticism,” pp. 341-2. 

a Or, as the anonymous author o! 
the ‘ Creed of Buddha * puts it : — “Its 
[the Soul’s] conception of Nature, freed 
from the limits which the popular cri- 
terion of existence imposed upon it, will 
be raised to an infinite power. So will 


its conception of itself. And these two 
parallel conceptions, meeting at last 
‘ at infinity,’ will become one,” p. 270. 

* Cf. * Aristotle,’ Watson, p. 378. 

4 Vol. I, pp. 609-10. The italics are 
the author’s. 



60 


KNOWING AND BEING. 


[OHAP. IV. 


The same truth may be, somewhat differently, stated thus : — 

This progressive development of the consciousness — philosophical 
and religious — tends gradually to remove the two-fold error, which 
man in his initial stages commits, of identifying the Mind with the 
Self and of locating outside the Mind the sensations which the mind 
makes within itself and of giving them an external reality. 

The Indian systems were undoubtedly right in including (as they 
have done) the manas (mind), buddhi (intellect), and ahankdra (lower 
egohood) among the products of prakriti (Nature), as distinguished 
from the true Self, which is ever the same, and by virtue of which 
alone they manifest an intellectuality which we are accustomed to 
call our ego. These three are the intellectualising principles of pra- 
Jcriti ; they constitute what, in European systems, is called the Mind, 
and are ever undergoing modifications and changes. 

The theory of the Veddnta is that, in every cognition rightly under- 
stood, and in consequence of the activities (Karma) which it gives 
rise to, there is chitta shiiddhi , the progressive development, trans- 
formation, and regeneration of man ; that is, the mind, which is gener- 
ally vacillating, becomes firm and resolute, and thus merges in buddhi. 
The buddhi , likewise, in its progress, enlightens the aham vritti , (the 
lower egohood), and this, in its turn, assimilates with the true Self. 
Thus, the Self which was set against Self becomes assimilated, so 
to speak, with itself. In other words, Subject and Object become 
one. Even the lower passions can be brought, in this process of as 
similation, to do the higher work. 1 Thus nothing in this process is 
destroyed in reality. All is transformation, not destruction. It 
is this assimilation to which the Veddnta refers in reality when it savs 
that the Self should be made free from its upddhies. 

This, then, is the surrmum bonum of the Indian Advaita . The Abso- 
lute, as it were, perceives itself and rises by degrees to Self realisation 3 . 

1 pti. of the Marathi cf. a similar conception taken by Scotus 

saint Tutaftm. The doctrine of PrapA- Erigena from Plotimus : “ as iron when 
Wra quoted by Prof. Bhanu in his Bhag. it becomes red hot, seems to be turned 
Git. II, 64, may well be referred to here, into pure fire, but remains no less iron 
It says- the iron, in contact with fire thftgyfflfqre, so when rational substances 
becomes fire-like, so the Senses, wjien in find. they do not lose their 

with the Atman, become Atman. i<Mtttfr, it in a higher state 

“ JW I a Of. Dvivedi’s ‘ Mind Up.’ introd. p. 

ii XVI11, 



CHAP. IV.J 


KNOWING AND BEING. 


6i 


One, who has reached this highest stage, realises everywhere the 
condition which is All-Thought, All-Sentiency, All-Effulgence 1 . 

I have above attempted to show that the Indian Veddnta in its 
theory of knowledge proceeded in its search for truth by the method 
to which European thinkers could take no exception. It started 
with the Self as the surest ground of certitude, for though everything 
else might be doubted, the doubter could not doubt himself. 2 Nowhere 
in ancient times was the cogito ergo sum so well recognised in its correct 
form as in India. The Veddnta also recognised the position that in 
every empiric cognition, the Self was invariably a necessary element, 
and that such cognition always meant the synthesis of the Self and 
Not- Self. 3 It further recognised the fact that this Not-Self was none 
other than the Self itself, externalised and appearing as conditioned by 
Time and Space and other relations of externality. And proceeding 
thus in its search, it discovered that the limitations, to which both the 
individual Self and the Self in Nature appeared subjected, could, in 
the course of man’s development — mental, ethical, religious and 
spiritual be gradually sublated, so that, eventually, the two might 
appear face to face, so to speak, in their true character, and recognise 
their identity — the result of such consummation being that All 
must be realised as advaita, One and Non-dual. 

The same result could be arrived at, if the Hegelian dialectic is 
fearlessly carried to its legitimate conclusion. 

No system of philosophy is so bold and rigorously logical in this 
respect as the Indian Advaita. It has not got to justify or reconcile 
the dogmas of any Personal Revelation. Unhampered by any such 
considerations, it boldly pursues its course in the search of truth, 
and proclaims what it finds with equal fearlessness. 

It is ready to admit the fact that in this world of sense-expe- 
rience, man is met at every step with strife and discord ; he has the 
whole picture of the world, as in a kaleidoscope, in which objects 
present no uniform appearance in any two moments. All is perpetual 
flux and change. The Veddntin is here at one with Heraclitus. 4 The 

1 MAnd. Up. IV, 89. ♦ For the original sayings of Heracli- 

3 See Shankar’s ‘ Atma an&tma tus, see G. R. S. Mead’s contribution to 
Viveka.* the ‘ Theosophical Review * for 1907. 

• Bhag. Git. II, 16. 



62 


KNOWING AND BEING. 


[CHAP, IV. 


concrete riches of human life lie between these two extremes— a limit- 
less Self and this perpetual flux and change —this Samsdra .* 
To us and to intelligences like ours, the truth consists in the synthesis 
of One and many. 1 2 

But this is not a necessary truth. It must be remembered that 
this perpetual flux and change imply time relations which it would 
be philosophically wrong to carry into the region of the Mind (Atman) 
which is itself timeless — timeless, because time itself, as Dr. Haldane 
might say, falls within it 3 , or as a Veddntin might say, it cannot be 
without it. 

And although the Hegelian dialectic as to the alternation of self- 
extemalisation and return with richer content each time in the pro- 
cess, is of use to us as a guide to a complete comprehension, in the 
end, of the Absolute Being as the Ultimate Reality, it is unphiloso- 
phical to think that such a process of externalisation and return is 
necessary in the case of the Absolute Being itself to become self- 
conscious.4 

The Absolute, from its very nature, must be self-conscious, if 
it is All Intelligence. It cannot require an Other to become itself 
Self-conscious. To say that it does would be to deprive it of its 
natural freedom and subject it to a law of necessity. Hegel, however, 
does this, and explains the descent of the Logos by means of his dia- 
lectic, and also vindicates thereby the Christian dogmas of the Trinity 
and Atonement — God, Father, going into Otherness, finite mind, 
the Son, that is, God imposing on Himself the limits of man’s finitude 
and then returning unto Himself in the fullness of His Self-con- 
sciousness (Holy Ghost). 

But is it not true that the truths of philosophy are present to 
the mind of God as a whole in an Eternal Now, and are not the results 
of a ratiocinative process ? All the great ideals of Absolute Truth, 
Absolute Beauty, Absolute Goodness, says Professor Upton, 5 are eter- 
nally realised in the Eternal Absolute ; only in us they are “ a re- 
velation of the perfection which ought to be realised . . . and it is 

1 O'/. Haldane’s “ Pathway,” II, 230- 4 Hegel In this respect appears to be 

233. wrong. 

* Bhag. Git. XIII, 27. 3 Upton’s * Hibbert Lectures,’ for 

• Haldane’s “ Pathway,” II, 227-228. 1893 > PP- 266 ‘ 7 - 



CHAP. IV.] 


KNOWING AND BEING. 


63 


only as the Ideal becomes in virtue of self-surrendering devotion 
and moral effort actually realised in our characters, that man’s 
divine sonship, which is implicit in him, in virtue of his being 
of the same substance with the Father, becomes an explicit reality.” 

According to Hegel himself the conceptions of philosophy can 
be no abstractions, though for us they always will be such 1 . Nature 
cannot be taken as appearing to God in the abstract externalities 
of Space and Time and, indeed, stands to him in no direct relation, 
for the plane of appearance, which is distinctive of it, pertains merely 
to the finite mind of man 2 * . 

What, then, is the meaning of God standing in need of another- 
ness to become self-conscious ? Does not His relation with that 
other become a necessary relation and does He not, in such a con- 
ception, lose His character of Absolute Being ? God (says Origen3) 
does not require the Second Person in order to come to Himself. 

The Absolute, as I have elsewhere 4 stated, quoting Dr. Calder- 
wood and J. S. Mill, is that which is free from all necessary relations, 
as a condition of existence. It may enter into relations, being essen- 
tially free ; but those relations, if removed, must not affect its 
existence. 

Philosophically, it would not be correct to say that it is in the 
very nature of God a necessity for Him to create the world. It may 
be impossible for us to apprehend Him without s^ich a world, but it 
is not a necessary condition of His existence . 

Then as to cognition of the Absolute, according to the theory of 
the Veddnta , it must ever be borne in mind, that it looks at the ques- 
tion from two— apparently opposed — points of view ; and the con- 
clusions thus drawn have to be understood by reference to the stand- 
point with which they are connected. 

These are the two paths called pravritti and nivritti — the one having 
a tendency to externality and the other to introspection — the one 
stimulating to Activity and the other drawing to Renunciation — the 

1 Haldane’s “ Pathway,” II, 254. See, also, Lotze’s Phil. Rel.,” pp 

a Ibid . ‘ Analysis of contents,’ p. ^9-63. 

XXII ; see also pp. 169-70. 4 Supra p. 54. 

* Inge’s “ Christian Mysticism” p. 90 ; 



64 


KNOWING AND BEING. 


[CHAP. IV. 


one giving rise to a world of empirical experience, necessary and useful 
for practical life ; the other leading to philosophic and spiritual 
enlightenment. 1 

The key to the correct reading of the Veddnta consists in the re- 
cognition of this two-fold path, which has its sanction in the Vedas. 
It represents the stages in the evolution of the consciousness of man. 

It is undisputed that man in the early stages of his development 
views himself and the object worid as self-subsisting and independent 
entities, with shairp and clear distinctions in forms in which separa- 
tion and isolation are the order of things. Everything observable 
in the world appears as being the effect of an antecedent cause ; all 
objects in it appear as occupying space ; all events occurring in it 
appear as taking place in time. But in a further stage of develop- 
ment, man finds that these relations of Cause and Effect, Space and 
Time, are relations which the mind itself makes, for its own purposes, 
and which fall withiu itself, and that they are true only for itself. 
They are forms in which the mind perceives the so-called objective 
world, which, independent of it and apart from it, has no existence. 2 
Its reality to the mind is only to the extent that it is presented to the 
mind within itself , and by laws peculiar to itself. This reality is 
termed phenomenal or dependent reality, which both Western and 
Indian idealists equally assert. 

It is a mistake to suppose that Indian Advaitins condemn this reality 
as illusory, in the sense of a positive blank or absolute nothing. On 
the contrary, they have, again and again, emphasised its necessity 
and usefulness for practical life. No man in his daily life can well 
neglect the body in which his Self is, so to speak, encased ; he is 
bound to maintain himself and work out the r61e of his earthly exist- 
ence. No man can, without injury to himself, ignore the environ- 
ment in which he finds himself placed, or discard his social and other 
relations and the duties they impose on him. A personality, and 
that a knowing personality, with all the appliances which Nature 
has furnished, is absolutely necessary to man for his onward progress — 
intellectual, social, moral and religious. Without it his own evo- 
lution and development and ultimate self-realisation, which is his 

1 Ish . Up. and Max Muller’s Note on a M&nd. Up. IV, 30. 



CHAP. IV.] 


KNOWING AND BEING. 


65 


goal, would be impossible 1 . All this universe, says Shankar, is for 
man’s edification to help him in self-realisation ; experience acquired 
in the process of self-externalisation (pravritti) and return (nivritti) 
developing the Self, so to speak, and making it richer and richer in 
content in the process . 2 

Professor Max Muller 3 is, therefore, not wrong when he says that 
“ Shankar claims for the phenomenal world a reality sufficient for all 
practical purposes — sufficient to determine our practical life, oui 
moral obligations, nay, even our belief in a manifested or revealed 
God.” 

The knowledge, then, which man acquires in his initial stages of 
development, is not ignored by the Advaitin as unessential. He 
know r s that man here has duties, purposes and ends, necessary for 
his social needs. Biro he also knows that this knowledge is not of 
a nature sufficiently far-reaching to guide us in the search after the 
ultimate truth ; he designates this knowledge Avidya or false know- 
ledge — false in tire sense of empirical and as implying the tendency 
of the mind to look for truth outside itself. The manifold, says 
Shankar, is evolved out of wrong knowledge . 4 5 This knowledge indicates 
the pravritti marga of the Veddntin , in which all the Space and Time 
relations have full play. 

This path admittedly does not lead to the end which the Self ought 
always to have in view, viz., its own self-realisation. In the world, 
as we see it, the mind meets at every step with strife and discord, 
and every sort of differentiation and antithesis ; it forgets that ah 
this strife and discord is of its own making, that it is due to its own 
activity and has no reality outside itself . 3 It is, as Hegel would say, 
for itself and within itself. It is only on reflection that it. discovers 
that these differentiations and antithesis are referable tor a higher 
unity, in w 7 hich they find their reconciliation and explanation, and 
acquire a deeper meaning when thus viewed . 6 Such a process of al- 
ternate self-externalisation and return into a higher unity must con- 
tinue till self-realisation results, and when that stage is reached, where 

1 Shankar’s Gloss on Vcd. Sutr. I, I, 1. 4 Shankar’s Gloss on Ved. Sutr. II, 

2 Shankar’s Gloss on Ait. Up. IV ; b 14 ; S. B. E. Vol. 34, p. 323. 

and Mhnd. Up. Ill, 15. 8 Ibid. 

8 “Theosophy,” p. 319. Sec also his 8 Cf. Haldane’s “ Pathway,” II 61,, 
‘‘Six Systems Ind. Phil.,” p. 202. 

5 



66 


KNOWING AND BEING. 


[CHAP. IV. 


it possibly can be, the result must necessarily be that these differentia- 
tions disappear and all is realised as one and Non-dual ( admit ) 4 
Paramdrtha-avasthdydm vyavahdr-abhdvam vadanti vedantdh sarve. 1 

In Hegelian language, as thought itself makes distinctions and re- 
lations, so it also transcends and cancels them ; in the very process 
of distinguishing, there is an implication of higher and higher stand- 
points where these distinctions begin to disappear 2 * * , and, as the Ad - 
yaitin puts it, ultimately vanish. 

This return of the Self unto itself is indicated in the Vedantic con- 
ception of nivritti (turning inwards). The region in which this return 
takes place is not conditioned by the relations of cause and effect, 
or of time or of space, which are valid only so far as the phenomenal 
world is concerned. 3 The inward path is free, says the Advaitin, 
from such limitations, from desha kala vastu parichchheda. 

The reader must have noticed how far the dialectics of Hegel and 
the Indian Advaitin run parallel, and where they diverge. The fol- 
lowing summary may be of use in this connection: — 

1. Being and Not-Being finding their reconciliation in becoming 
(Hegel). Compare Bhagavat Gita, tx, 19 and Shankar, quoted at 
p. 10 supra . 

2. Self-cxternalisation of Being (Hegel). Compare the Vedantic 
conception of Being projecting itself through its power called MdyaK 
The phantasmagoria of a world which is thus projected, man regards 
as external to himself. 5 

- 3. In this process of externalisation the Absolute Being is un- 
moved though moving. 6 

The Advaita conception of the Absolute projecting itself on itself 
conveys the same idea 7 . But Shankar candidly admits that though 
it is impossible to explain how the One becomes many, he does not 
ignore the eternal activity of Brahma , when he attributes the world 


1 SJiankar’s Gloss on Ved. Sutr. II 

I, 14 ; S. B. E. Vol. 34, pp. 329-330. 

Gf. a similar thought in J. Caird’s 

‘Spinoza,’ pp. 291-292. The whole 
of Chapter XVI of that book is worth 
reading in this connexion. 

a Haldane’s ‘‘ Pathway,” II, 221. 

* See *Ved. Sutr. II, 1, 14; and 

Shankar’s Gloss S.B.E. Vol. 34, pp. 324, 


326, 330. 

4 Ved. Sutr. 1, 4, 26 ; M&ndukya Up. 
II, 12. 

a Ballantyne ; Shankar’s * Viveka 
Chud&mani,’ 142-146. 

“ Hegel ; also Ved. Sutr. II, 2, 2. 
Shankar’s Gloss S. B. E. Vol. 34, p. 369. 

7 Supra p. 37. 



CHAP. IV.] 


KNOWING AND BEING. 


67 


and all that has come into being to its inseparable power Mdyd ; this 
is implied in the intelligent guidance (sattd splioorti) under which 
alone it is said that Maya can act. 1 * 

4. What happens in this process is the gradual and progxssive 
elimination of the notion of Nature being related to Intelligence as 
the effect of a cause. 1 * 

This is exactly what the Advaita teaches in its nivritjti path. 3 4 When 
man abandons the outward path and begins to see within himself, 
he realises, or at all events he is on the way to realise, the truth that 
All is One in an Eternal Now, without any of the limitations and 
relations of externality, which oppressed him in the outer world of 
finitude.4 He begins to understand that, though he cannot explain 
how the world has come into being, it can have no existence and no 
meaning independent of Brahma , since the individual itself is Brahma 
and the world itself is based on it, is for it and within it. 5 The differen- 
tiations and distinctions, which he used to make in this world of finitude 
as being external to himself, begin to lose 6 their significance for him. 

5. “ The picture of a pure self-consciousness regarding things from 
the highest standpoint, finding itself in its objects, and no longer 
troubled by any distinction between the object world and itself, because 
it has got rid of all the abstractions of lower standpoints — such a pic- 
ture we cannot present to ourselves, because we are compelled to view 
the universe from the standpoint of the particular individual. But by 
reflection we may get towards the grasp of the concrete truth that 
this is the final conception of the Self, the real foundation and 
meaning of experience, and that it is really actualised in experience/’ 7 

For the Advaita view on this subject see p. 61 supra. It asserts 
that Atman (Self) and that alone is the ultimate Reality, and nothing 
independent of it is. 

6. That Reality is Mind. There is only one Reason, one Mind ; 
and Mind, as finite, has not a real existences 

1 See Ved. Sutr. II, 2, 2, and Shankar’s 5 Ved. Sutr. II, 1, 14; and Shankar’s 
Gloss, S. B. E. Vol. 34, p. 369. Gloss, S. B. E. Vol. 34, p. 322. 

a Hegel ; see Haldane’s ‘‘ Pathway,” 6 They vanish, says J. Caird in 
I, 112. “ Spinoza,” pp. 291-2. 

3 M&nd. Up. II, 32; IV, 22, ; and Haldane’s ‘ Pathway,’ I, 112. 

Shankar’s Gloss thereon. s Hegel; see Haldane’s {/Pathway/} 

4 See pp. 33 and 34 supra. II, 101. 



68 


KNOWING AND BEING. 


[CHAP. IV. 


What is called Mind in the Hegelian system is designated Brahma , 
or Atman (Self) in the Veddnta. Both agree in holding that this is 
One, and there is nothing like a finite Atman or Self. In the Hegelian 
system, the human soul is called a “ finite spirit ; an objectionable 
expression, I should think, since it is inconceivable, in the very nature 
of t hin gs, for spirit to be finite. In the Veddnta , it is designated J wa y 
but the Veddnta asserts that it is not different from Brahma ; it is 
metaphorically called individual soul on account of its connection 
with the limiting adjuncts (upddhies 1 ). Till the dawn of true knowledge 
it continues to be influenced by such limiting adjuncts ; it considers 
itself fettered by Time and Space relations in this world of sense- 
experience ; it erroneously identifies itself with the intellect ( buddhi 
and manas) and ahankdra (the lower egohood). These, in the Indian 
systems, are only the instruments of knowledge, and can only function 
when enlightened by the true Self (Atman) ; they do not constitute, 
our ego ; like other organs of sense and body, they are only a product 
of prakriti (Nature, Becoming) and, as such, liable to constant change. 
The true Self is the universal, eternal, and changeless Self and never 
finite. 

7. All things are ultimately reducible bo thought, according to 
Hegel. 2 God is defined as “ Mind that comprehends itself completely. 
Within such Mind all reality of whatever character or degree must 
fall. 3 ” 

Compare Bhag. Git. XIII, 30, in which Shri Krishna is represented 
as saying : “ When he perceive th the diversified existence of beings 

as rooted in One, and proceeding from it, then he reacheth Brahma .” 

The last stage or category is All Thought, Universal Sentiency, 
says Shankar in his Gloss on Mandukya Up. IV, 89. 

8. The spirit of man whereby he knows God is simply the spirit 
of God Himself 4 . There is a “ potential identity of man and God in 
a single subject of knowledge. 5 

When the Advaita posits man’s identity with God and subscribes 
to the doctrine of tat twam asi , it does not mean anything more than 
that the two are identical in essence ; that both are one Atman or 


1 Shankar’s Gloss on Ved. Sufcr. Ill, 
2, 10 ; S. B. E. Vol. 38, p. 149. 

2 Schweglar, p. 432. 


8 Haldane’s ‘ Pathway,’ II, 170. 

4 Hegel, " Phil. Rel.” Ill, 303 

5 Haldane’s ‘ Pathway,’ II, 169. 



OHAP. IV.] 


KNOWING AND BEING* 


69 


Brahma . It does not identify the man of the flesh with the Supreme 
Being. What it says most significantly is that stripping Brahma 
of the category of cause and the individual soul as the effect of that 
cause, what remains is All Thought, All Intelligence : kdryopddhira- 
yam jeevah Jcdranopadh ireesh varah Icdryakdramtam hitwd poorna - 
bodhovashishyatd 1 . 

This is the identity which the Advaitin claims for man, and holds forth 
as the ideal, which, he says, it is possible to reach under proper culture. 

It is only at this last stage — this culminating point — that some 
divergence between Hegelianism and the Indian Advaita becomes 
manifest. The one apparently holds it to be absolutely impossible 
for man actually to become identical with God, while the other holds 
it to be possible, though, indeed, under conditions almost bordering, 
in practice, on the impossible. The one retains the element of plu- 
rality in the Unity, while the other discards it in the highest stage 
of development. The one posits, as an ultimate reality, the unify 
of Being and Not-Being^- Becoming ; the other says that Becoming 
is not a necessary truth but only contingent as involving relations 
which in the case of the Absolute cannot be necessary. 

This is what according to Dr. E. Caird is the summum bonum of 
Hegelianism : — 

Thought has always its opposite or negative, which it at once 
“ excludes and involves, and this process is repeated in regard to it, 
with the result of reaching a still higher unity. . . . And so on 

through ever widening sweep of differentiation and integration, till 
the whole body of thought is seen in its organic unity and develop- 
ment — every fibre of it alive with relation to the whole, in which it 
is a constituent element .” 2 

Beyond this, Hegelianism apparently refuses to go ; and, indeed, 
generally speaking, all European idealists 3 do the like. They seem 
to think that it is absolutely impossible for man to reach the condi- 
tion of complete self-realisation, although potentially he is identical 
with God, and that it is blasphemous to conceive the possibility of 
such identification. 

1 Prapak&ra, quoted by Prof. Bh&nu 8 See e. g. Haldane’s 4 Pathway,’ II, 99 

in his Bhag. Git. XIII, 2. and following. 

3 E. Oaird’s • Hegel,’ p. 164 



70 


KNOWING AND BEING. 


[CHAP. IV. 


No doubt, so long as this feat is not accomplished, and, indeed, 
to the generality of human beings, it is practically impossible, the 
position taken by these thinkers is correct ; and Shankar himself 
admits its correctness 1 , and the distinctions of subject and object, 
knower and known, and the relations involved in them continue as 
valid as ever. 

But where complete self-realisation is possible (as to which, see 
later on) and ensues in any given case, then, in such a case, the only 
philosophically correct view is that All is Thought and all element 
of plurality giving rise to variety must disappear as a differentiated 
entity. One who has reached this stage, if haply there be any, sees 
no differentiations anywhere ; to him All is Brahman. This is the 
position which the Advaitin takes, and it is certainly the most impreg- 
nable position logically. 

Plurality presupposes relations — relations of subject and object, 
&c., but “ how (asks Shankar 2 ) can the One enter into relations with 
itself?” He, however, concedes that having regard to the manifold of 
existence manifested on itself by its own power, Maya , under its in- 
telligent guidance, Brahma may be assumed to have within it this 
element of plurality, as its potential content, ndma roopa beeja shakti 
roopam 3 . But such experience is our experience and the experience 
probably of intelligences like our own. We cannot assume it to be 
the experience of all possible intelligences. “ The truths of the senses 
are not necessarily the truths for all minds, but only truths for beings 
with senses like ours . 4 As in the Eleatic system, the universe is a “mere 
subjective phenomenon,” possessing no such truth as that which 
Reason might compel us to attribute to the Permanent One . 5 


1 Shankar’s Gloss on Taitt. Up. II, 

1; Chh&nd. Up. II, 23, Kath. Up. Ill, 14. 
In the references I have given above 
from Chh&nd. Up. II, 23, Shankar 
appears to be distinctly against any 
but a Sannydsin (ascetic in the fourth 
order) striving for the highest know- 
ledge. The others, he says, have duties 
to perform and continue to be active 
in life. 

3 Shankar’s Gloss on Ved. Sutr. II, 
2, 10; S. B. E. Vol. 34, p. 379. Cf. Ibid . 
II, 1, 14, p. 323. Cf. J. Caird’s ‘ Phil. 

Rel./pp. 246-246; 

“The most exalted of religious 


natures finds its consolation in passing 
away from the contradictions of the 
finite, from the enigmas which human 
life and history present, and in rising, 
to that loftier point of view whore they 
vanish away in the thought of Him, of 
whom and through whom and to 
whom are all things, to whom be 
glory for ever ”. 

8 See Shankar’s Gloss on Ved. Sutr 
I, 2, 22 ; S. B. E. Vol. 34, p. 140. 

4 Ferrier’s “ Gr. Phil.,” pp 33 and 87. 

5 Ibid. p. 86. 



CHAP. IV.] 


KNOWING AND BEING. 


71 


The highest philosophical truth seems to be “ Mind 5 ' conscious 
of Itself — Mind knowing Mind in its completeness — Atman seeing 
Atman , the veil of Nescience being now completely removed. 1 * 3 , 

The way in which the Advaitin seeks to arrive at this truth is by 
what is termed adhydropdpavdda 2 — an assumption of the negative 
of Being to explain the Becoming3. This negative of the Atman is 
Andtman. It is this to which the world with its relations of exter- 
nality is due. When this has fulfilled its purpose of effecting the 
complete self-realisation of the Atman, there isnolongeranyoccasionfor 
the recognition of the A ndtman as a differentiated entity in its negative 
aspect. The assumption of andtman, as the logical opposite of Atman , 
is necessary only for explaining the universe and its object and aim. 
When that is accomplished, the true nature of the andtman becomes 
revealed. As amdyd 9 it was assumed to be in the Atman and inseparable 
from it 4 ; with the dawn of knowledge it is itself resolved into Thought 
and must disappear as a differentiated opposite. 5 With light must 
disappear darkness. 

It is interesting in this connection to quote here a passage from 
Hegel himself : — “ The good, the absolute good, eternally accom- 
plishes itself in the world, with the result that it is already accomplish- 
ed in and for itself, and does not require to wait for us. That it does 
so wait is the illusion in which we live and which is the sole active prin- 
ciple upon which interest in this world rests. The idea in its 'process 
causes this illusion to itself, and its whole action consists in cancelling 
this illusion. Only from this error does the truth spring , and herein 
alone lies the reconciliation with error and finitude ; otherness or error 


1 See Aristotle quoted in Haldane’s 

‘ Pathway,’ II, 122. 

3 Seo Dvivedi’s ‘ Introd.’ ‘ Hand. 
Up.,’ p. XVII, whore this process 
is exp'ained as follows: — '“In its 
attempts at Self realization, it 
[Atman] makes itself tho cause (so to 
speak) of experience of everything 

which appears as andtman (non- 
dtman). Hegel points out that pure 
being is both thing and no-thing, the 
positive implies the negative. The 
idea of mind implies that of no-mind, 
Atman implies andtman , and self- 
realization ensues only from experience, 
based upon this assumed opposition. 


The process of Self-realization is 
called in Adwaita the a dhydropdpa- 
vdda (the negation of something 
assumed for the time as opposed to 
the real thing). The world of experi- 
ence does^ not really exist, but Atman 
takes it ( Aropa ), as all Andtman , for its 
own purpose of self-realization, which, 
when fully accomplished (Apavdda) 
shows everything as inseparably one. 15 

8 See supra pp. 41 and 42. 

4 See supra p. 18. 

5 See, as to the process of transform 
ation, the dootrine of Prapakara, quoted 
supra p. 60. 



KNOWING AND BEING. 


72 


[CHAP. IV 


as cancelled is itself a necessary moment of truth which is only in 
so far as it makes itself its own result .” 1 

And what is the result when the climax is reached, assuming the 
possibility of such an event in the case of any particular individual 
or intelligence ? Dr. Haldane 2 * thinks it difficult to ascertain “what 
in ultimate analysis that [Ultimate] reality would disclose itself to be.” 

Fichte, in his enumeration of the several stages of mental develop- 
ment, states as follows : — 

“ God alone is and beside Him nothing is ; . . . . that the divine 
life appears broken up in a multiplicity of things as the one light in the 
prism is broken up into a number of coloured rays ; ... . that the 
form ever conceals from us the essence, our seeing itself hides the 
object we see ; our eye itself impedes our eye. Yet this only applies 
to the empirical point of view ; . . . . But , ‘ only raise thyself to the 
point of view of religion, and all wrappings disappear, the world passes 
away for thee with her dead principle and the Deity itself enters thee again, 
in its first, in its primal form, as life, as thine own life, which thou must 
live and art to live/ The multiplicity of phenomena remains, it is true, for 
the empirical consciousness , but it is now known for what it is, as the un- 
substantial reflection of the One Divine Being in the mirror of thought 3 
. . . . fi As soon as man abolishes himself, purely, entirely, to the 

very root, God alone remains and is all in all ; man can produce no 
God for himself, but he can do away with [his lower] Self as the great 
negation, and then he passes into God .”4 

How closely analogous are these sentimentss to the Veddnta ! Still, 
there are passages in Fichte which indicate that while, like Hegel, 


1 Hegel’s Encyclopaedia, Works, Vol. 
VI, p. 15, quoted by Prof. Upton in his 
4 Hibbert Lectures ’ for 1893, p. 305. 
The italics are the author’s. 

2 Haldane’s 4 Pathway,’ I, 285. 

8 Pfleiderer’s ‘Phil. Rel.\ Vol. I,p.29l. 

4 Ibid. p. 293 ; the italics in this 
para, are the author’s cf. also J. Caird’s 
‘Spinoza/ pp. 291-292. 

a Cf. Bhag. Git. XIII, 16. 
“Not divided amid beings, and yet 
seated as if distributively ; that is to 
be known as the supporter of beings ; He 
devours and He generates.” Ibid. XIII, 
27 “ Seated equally in all beings, the 


Supreme Lord unperishing within the 
perishing — he who thus seethhe seeth.” 
Ibid. XIII, 13. “ Everywhere That hath 
hands and feet, everywhere eyes heads 
and mouths; ail hearing, He dwelleth in 
the world, enveloping all.” Cf. also 
Wilson’s note to S&nkya KArika, 
XVIII. 

W ^ ft irTT^T 

qw n 

“ It is the one Atman that is seated 
in every being ; though one, it appears 
manifold, like the Moon [reflected] 
in water.” 



CHAP. IV.] 


KNOWING AND BEING. 


73 


he posits the “ fellowship of God and Man,” the dualism is not 
entirely wiped away. 

It is only the Indian Advaita which has taken the lofty position 
and boldly asserted that, from, the standpoint of the Absolute , the highest 
necessary truth is Unity, and Unity alone, without any differen- 
tiated element of plurality in it. 

I say from the standpoint of the Absolute, for, as stated before, and it 
can never be too often repeated, that from the empirical point of view 
of the universe, the truth is, undoubtedly, Unity in diSerence, the unity 
of Being and Not-Being, the synthesis of Subject and Object, the chit - 
jadgrantlii of the Vedanta . But, on the highest plane of thought, this 
very synthesis is discovered to be a synthesis of the self with itself, and 
is a unity m identity, with the differentiation of subject and object 
wholly disappearing. The multiplicity of outward phenomena may 
remain, but it would be for empirical consciousness only. 1 II 

When all has been realised as thought, where is the room for any 
element of plurality to remain ? In the case of one who has reached 
this highest stage, the sum total of his past experience, which has trans- 
formed his entire personality and character, has no distinctive meaning 
whatsoever. To use a Hegelian expression, it has enriched the mind, it 
is true, but in the very process of so enriching it, it has disappeared. 

And what, again, would be the distinguishing characteristic of 
this plurality, if it is supposed to exist in relation after complete self- 
realisation ? As a distinctive element it must be either in its infini- 
tude or as a finite existence within the infinite. If the former, it must, 
as another infinite, destroy the infinitude of the Absolute itself. Shan- 
kar 2 says that a plurality would imply substances exclusive of each 
other, and thus the Self would itself become limited. If it is a finite 
existence within the infinite, it would be superfluous to the conception 
of the Absolute, as Maimonides might say3. It may be truth for us, 
but not for all possible intelligences. It is not a necessary truth. 

Thus starting with Self (Atman) in our search for the reality, we 
come back to self (Atman) in the end. The individual soul thus re- 
gains its heritage at last. 

1 See Shankar’s Gloss on Ved. Sutr. * Ibid . p. 180. 

II 2, 1I;S.B.E. Vol. 34, p. 381. 8 See . supra. 



CHAPTER V. 


TAT-TWAM-ASI 1 AND WESTERN THOUGHT. 

‘ It is man’s highest dignity that ho should Know 
himself to be a nullity ’ — Hegel. 

The highest truth, according to the Vedanta , is that there is One 
and only One Eternal Being without a second — and that, as a corol- 
lary from it, man is identical with that One — a position which is 
generally signified by passages like 4 1 am Brahma c Thou art That 5 — 
passages which arc called Mahd Vafojas (Great Truths) — as giving 
expression to the highest verity. 

Indian Theology is based on this ideal. The Vedanta is thus both— 
Religion and Philosophy. 

The ideal (rr^HRf) tat-twam-asi 2 * expresses an attitude in which man 
has risen, from the finite and relative, to the Absolute — an attitude 
in which he realises everything as one with Brahma. This does not 
necessarily mean a denial of the finite, for whenever he chooses to 
come down from his serener heights to act his part on the lower plane, 
he again sees everything in its differentiations as before, although he 
himself in reality is above it, since he has realised his own identity 
with Brahma . To use Fichte’s expression, the world has “ passed 

away for him with her dead principle The multiplicity of 

phenomena remains, it is true, for the empirical consciousness, but 
it is now known for what it is, as the unsubstantial reflection of the 
One Divine Being in the mirror of thought.” 

As statement of a philosophic view, it is intelligible enough 
that, if there is but one Eternal Being without a second, the 
individual soul itself must, in essence, be nothing but that Eternal 
Being. 


1 Contributed originally to the ‘ Indian 

Review * for 1905/ pp. 385-389, 473*478. 

For a confirmation of the author’s views 

expressed in this Chapter, see * Theoso* 


phical Review ’ for 1905. 

* The expression literally means 4 ‘Thou 
art that, ” •*.«., the Individual Soul is in 
essence identical with the Supreme Soul. 



CHAP. V.] TAT-TWAM-ASI AND WESTERN THOUGHT. 75 

But this conception is ordinarily incapable of realisation and the 
sentiments involved in the conception are such that it is extremely 
difficult, if not impossible, to adequately express them in intelligible 
language. Much more has this been the case with a ceio*in class of 
European thinkers, whose bias against this doctrine has been so strong 
as to completely mislead them in their understanding and apprecia- 
tion of the Indian view. 

The principal objections taken by diverse European thinkers to the 
Indian conception are : — 

I. That it is revolting to common sense and blasphemous for 
Humanity to claim complete identity and equal rank 
with the Eternal Absolute. 

II. That the said conception presupposes the fictitious cha 
racter of the individual soul or the annihilation of that 
individual soul. 

III. That it involves the destruction of Nature and is thus 
one-sided. 

IY. That the conception is inconceivable and absurd. 

V. That it means Pantheism, with a decidedly antitheistic and 
immoral tendency. 

VI. That it does violence to the Christian Ethical ideal, which 
is acceptable to all mankind. 

VII. That it is mystic in its character, and can furnish no 
guide either in Philosophy or Theology for general 
acceptance. 

VIII. That, as leading to a life of Quietism, it is practically useless in 
the development of man or the progress of society. 

I now proceed to offer a few remarks on each of these objections ; 
but I must, at the outset, earnestly invite attention to the broad dis- 
tinction which the Vedanta makes, and which, indeed, every philo- 
sophy ought to make, between what is strictly a philosophical and, 
therefore, a necessary truth — a truth for all possible intelligences — 
and a practical truth which has only a relative value to us and to 
intelligences like our own. If this distinction is well borne in mind, 
much of the confusion, that has arisen, could be avoided. “ Phi- 
losophy and popular thinking move on different platforms, and most 



76 


TAT-TWAM-ASI AND WESTERN THOUGHT. 


[CHAP. V. 


of the greatest errors in speculation arise from the transference of 
considerations which are in due place in one of them into the other 
where they are absolute absurd ities .” 1 

The first objection to the doctrine of tat-twam-asi, noticed above, 
is that though by reason of the divine element being in us we might 
claim the divine sonship of God and the brotherhood of man, as in the 
Christian system, it is revolting to common sense and it is rank blas- 
phemy for humanity to claim absolute identity and equal rank with 
the Supreme Being. 

What common sense has to do in a philosophical enquiry, one can 
scarcely understand. If philosophy is to be controlled by common 
sense, philosophy had better be done away with altogether. The 
province of philosophy is to be in search of the necessary truth and 
proclaim it fearlessly when it is discovered, without regard to its 
consequences on popular belief or common sense. Such a truth, the 
Advaita says, its conception of tat-twam-asi is. 

But what blasphemy is there involved in that conception ? Where 
is the blasphemy when All is One ? Hegelianism admits the poten- 
tial identity of man with God in the single element of knowledge. 
Is there no blasphemy in that conception ? Is there no blasphemy 
when you identify the self of the individual with the self of the Supreme 
Being in howsoever slight a degree ? What is the meaning of saying 
(as Hegel does) that there is one and only mind and that the absolute 
mind , and that mind as finite has no real existence ? Is there no 
blasphemy in locating God in man, at least after “ Adam’s Fall,” 
in whatever sense this location may be understood ? Is not the idea 
of. union with God blasphemous Is it not blasphemous to say, as 
Iew\sha& done, 44 YmThee and Thou in me, that they he made perfect 
m One V 1 “ God and man Isays the Theologia Germanica) should 

he wholly united, so that it can he said of a truth that God and man 
are one.” “ God became man (says Athanasius) that we might be 
made God .” 3 Is there no blasphemy in these utterances ? 

The truth is that this idea of blasphemy is a purely Semetic concep- 
tion, and is conceivable only in a system in which God is conceived 
as unapproachable, sitting high in the Heavens and far away from 

1 Adamson’s 4 Fichte/ pp. 145-6. ‘Theol. Germ.’ preface, p. xiii, 



CHAP. V.] 


TAT-TWAM-ASI AND WESTERN THOUGHT. 


77 


man, and where to approach such a Being would be the height of 
absurdity and profanity. But it would be absolutely wrong to 
engraft this conception on Aryan or Indo-Germanic thought, which 
avowedly posits the Divine element in man and asserts the possibility 
of his becoming a God-man, if nothing more. 

Those who first create an unapproachable Deity and are afterwards 
afraid to approach Him have to thank themselves for the impiety 
involved in the conception I am now discussing. In the language of 
Professor Max Muller they have made an abyss between the human and 
the Divine and they dare not cross it. This was not so in the early 
days of Christianity . 1 

I have often heard this idea of taHwam-asi ridiculed for its supposed 
effrontery in man claiming equal rank with his Maker. 

Even professed Pantheists consider this to be a wild idea. But 
does the Vedanta say that every man whom you meet in the streets is 
Brahma ? He may become Brahma , if he follows the path of righteous- 
ness and attains to a state of perfection ; he must become God-like 
to become God, the germ of such affinity being in him. He must 
surrender his lower egohood completely ; to use a Hegelian phrase, 
he must ‘ die to live 5 ; to use a Biblical expression, he must lose his 
iower life that he may gain the higher. He must pass through 
rigorous, moral and spiritual discipline and become fit to realise the 
Divinity in him, and it is only when complete sell-realisation ensues, 
that he will be entitled to identify himsell with Brahma. Till then he 
has no right to say I am Brahma . 

Christian thinkers, who acknowledge the teachings of Jesus, ought 
to have nothing to say against the possibility of realization of such 

1 Of. Max Muller’s ‘Theosophy,’ p. 534, ticipate in the nature of the divine 
whore he rightly observes: — “If shouhl have excited horror and disgust. 
people conceive God as a kind of But after the Deity had been freed 
Jupiter, or even as a Jehovah , then from its mythological character, after 
the idea can only be considered bias- the human mind, whether in India or 
phemous as it was by the Jews, or elsewhere, hid once realized the fact, 
can only be rendered palatable to the that God was all in all, that there 
human understanding in tho form of could be nothing beside God, that 
characters such as Herakles or Diony- there could be one Infinite only, not 
sius. So long as such ideas of the two the conclusion that the human 
Godhead and its relation to humanity Soul also belonged to God was inevit- 
are entertained, and we knew that able.” i he whole passage, too long for 
they were entertained even by Christian quotation here, is very suggestive read- 
theologians, it was but natural that a ing. — ED. 
claim on the part of humanity to par- 



78 TAT-TWAM-ASI AND WESTERN THOUGHT. [CHAP. V. 

an ideal. “ Be ye, therefore, perfect (says Jesus) as your Father 
in heaven is perfect .” 1 

There is, further, no annihilation of the individual egohood involved 
in this conception of tat-twam-asi as is generally supposed. 

Many European writers in referring to this Vedanta doctrine have 
employed extravagant language, without pausing to consider how 
their own conceptions might fare, if judged by their own standard 
and measure. One writer considers this to be “ the self-annihilation 
of the Pantheist ” ; another says that the individual soul of the Veddn- 
tin is swallowed up in the great bottomless abyss of Brahma ; a 
third says that it is a fiction, and so on. 

But what self-annihilation is there involved in this conception, 
when it is said that the individual soul which is itself Brahma and, 
therefore, divine, must realise its true nature, and regain its own 
heritage, which, by undue and even false attachments to “ things 
earthly,” it has at present lost. 

If this is self-annihilation, is it not self-annihilation when the Bible 
asks you to “ lose life that you might gain it.” Yet Dr. Edward Caird 
admits there is no extinction of the seif in this conception. 

It is admitted that man has two natures — the human and the Divine 
— combined in him. The one draws him outward to nature, the 
other inward to God. If he is asked to give up or rather to exalt the 
human, that he might become entirely Divine, is that an annihilation 
of the self ? If it is, the whole of Christianity and Christian Philo- 
sophy must fall to the ground ; if it is not an annihilation of the self 
in the Christian system, why should the Indian Vedanta be made the 
victim of that charge ? Some Christian writers, and among them 
notably Professor Pfleiderer, accredit the Veddnta with the conception 
that in this system both the individual self and God are fictions — a 
conception which betrays a complete ignorance or misapprehension 
of Yed antic terminology. Attempts to interpret the philosophic 
thoughts of any nation, in utter disregard of the terminology peculiar 
to its philosophy, are like the attempts of a school boy, who, with the 
help of his school-dictionary, ventures to criticise the work of a speci- 
alist ofi any technical subject. 


1 Math. V, 48. 



CHAP. V.] 


TAT-TWAM-ASI AND WESTERN THOUGHT. 


79 


Professor Pfleiderer is a philosopher and if he professed to speak 
about Indian Philosophy in his lectures, he should have considered 
that, however faulty that philosophy might appear to him from the 
European point of view, it could not be guilty of such an absurdity as 
to wipe away the thinker who thinks and with him the supreme 
principle to which his very existence is due. If the learned Professor 
had turned to any of the pages in Thibaut’s translation 1 of the 
Vedanta Sutras , he would have seen his mistake. 

What would Prof. Pfleiderer say, for instance, to the following 
passage in Principal J. Caird’s Philosophy : — 

“ It is just in this renunciation of the self that I truly gain myself 
or realise the highest possibilities of my nature. . . . Whilst 

in one sense we give up self to live the universal and absolute life of 
reason, yet that to which we thus surrender ourselves is, in reality, our 
truer self. . . . When we attain the ideal perfection of our nature, 

the self, that is foreign to it, is foreign to as too ; it becomes lost and ab- 
sorbed in that deeper and higher self with which our whole life and being 
is identified .” 2 

Is the individual self in the above passage a fiction ? If not, is the 
absorption there spoken of an annihilation of that self ? If the above 
writer's brother, Dr. Edward Caird, were asked these questions, he 
would at once return an emphatic negative. 3 

Curiously enough, Professor Pfleiderer himself correctly interprets 
similar sentiments, found in the writings of Eckhart and Fichte, 
and does not deduce from them the absurd conclusions with which 
he accredits the Vedanta . This is what he says of Eckhart 4 :— “ But 
although Eckhart frequently describes this mystical union with God 
as an absorption of the soul in God, as a total losing of one’s self, as 


i See e.g., S. B. E. Vol. 34, pp. 130, 
135, 251, 281 ; Vol. 38, pp. 46, 47, 65, GO, 
149, &c. 

See this charge refuted supra. 

The passage in S. B. E. Vol. 
34, p. 281, is worth quoting here : — 
“ Scripture itself explains that what 
1 b meant is not the annihilation 
of the Self .... ‘ verily, beloved, 

that Self is imperishable, and of an 
indestructible nature, but there takes 
place non-connexion with the Mdtrds .’ 
That means the eternally unchanging 


Self, which is ono mass of knowledge, 
cannot possibly perish ; but by moans 
of true knowledge there is effected its 
dissociation from the Mdtrds, i.e., the 
elements and the sense organs which 
are the product of nescience.’* 

2 J. Caird’s Introdn. ‘ Phil. Rel.* The 
italics in the passage are the author’s. 

3 E. Caird’s ‘ Evolution of Theology in 
the Greek Philosophers.’ % 

4 Pfleiderer, ‘Phil. Rel.,* Vol. I, pp. 
4-5. See also ibid. p. 291, as to Fichte. 



80 


TAT-TWAM-ASI AND WESTERN THOUGHT. 


[OHAP. V. 


an annihilation of the Ego , he still does not mean to denote by these 
expressions an indolent passivity, an unfruitful Quietism. On the 
contrary, the abolition of the unddvine Ego is, in his view, at the same 
time, the reception and invigoration of the true ; the rest in God is 
at the same time ‘ freedom of movement to suffer in God means 
God working through us.” 

Is the Vedantic conception more difficult to grasp ? We say that 
when man realises the true nature of the Self in him as being Divine 
and Identical in essence with the Universal Self, he ceases (as might 
be expressed in popular language) to attach himself to any tiling that 
is inconstant and everchanging ; he ceases to identify himself with the 
ever-changing products of nature ( PraJcriti ) with the five sense organs 
(antahkarana-panchaka) which, instead of being the true or Divine Ego, 
furnish only the instruments of knowledge, themselves dependent for 
their illumination on the true or Divine Ego ; and when lie knows that 
the only eternally real is the Supreme Self or Brahma , while the world 
itself has no reality independent of or apart from that Supreme Self, 
the differentiations, which he was accustomed to see, would be to him 
(and to him alone) as if they were not, and the two would appear in 
their true nature. What vanishes are the differentiations which the 
activity of his own mind had made for him, in this world of finitude 
for his limited aims and ends. It is like the unveiling of the self with- 
in and the self in Nature 1 and the discovery of their identity with the 
Supreme Self. It is “ the return into identity from difference 

All that which is inconstant and ever-changing and with which 
the two were hitherto associated, — the entire “ earthly nature,” 
in the language of the Vedanta, all the Upadhi (sheaths) under which 
they lay concealed, and with which they were hitherto held as inti- 
mately connected and even identified— it is these which are said to 
vanish with the dawn of true knowledge 2 . 


1 Cf. Aristotle quoted in Haldane’s 
“ Pathway,” II, p. 122. 

“ Brahma itself becomes Jshwara (the 
Supreme Lord) when associated with 
its own power (Shakti) See Pancha 
Dasi, III, 40 : * 

Hmrsrt'pf I “ There 
is no difference, except in name, between 
Ktitastha (Mwara) and Brahma,” Ibid, 


VI, 237. 

^T#nftK5r arfa : ; i 

scifoTP'rar i%r^rr n 

i 

“ The individual Soul has the upadhi of 
being the effect, Ishwara has that of 
being the cause ; stripping both of their 
relation as cause and effect, what remains 
is All Thought.” Prap&k&ra quoted by 
Prof. Bh&nu in his Bhag. Git. XIII, 2. 



CHAP. V.] 


TAT-TWAM-ASI AND WESTERN THOUGHT. 


81 


All are now viewed in their true identity. The self in man, the 
self in Nature and the self in God — all remain — not as so many distinct 
beings, as they appeared before the complete self-realisation, but 
as identical and one. Neither the individual soul bf the VeddrAn , 
nor his God is a fiction, as stated by Professor Pfleiderer 1 . 

The language of the Advaitin is that the individual, the Creator and 
the creation are all Brahma itself , only appearing, in this world of fini- 
tude, under the veil of Nescience, as conditioned and differentiated. 

What is called Nescience here is not ignorance in the popular sig- 
nification of that term. The Sanskrit word for it is Avidya — it is a 
technical term denoting empirical or worldly knowledge, — a knowledge 
of Nature. This is not true knowledge, according to the 
Veddntin , for it is outward -facing ( hahirmukha ), looking outward and 
hiding the true reality under it. ? It means separation and not unity. 
That power which is inward-facing leads to true knowledge . 3 “ The 
more we study physical nature, the further God is removed from 
us ; the more we study man, the nearer God approaches to us. 4 ” 

What is true knowledge with us was gnosis with the early Christian 
Fathers. In Christian Philosophy, it is Faith . 5 

What we call Nescience has, in the language of Christian Philosophy, 
reference to the lower or purely human aspect of the individual self, 
in alliance with all that is “ of the earth earthly.” It is this aspect 
which has to be expunged, or to speak more correctly, the human 
has to be transformed and raised to the Divine and the Divine thus 
fully realised. 

The Hegelian expression “ dying to live ” conveys the same sen- 
timent and this (as stated by Dr. Edward Caird) constitutes the 
essence of Christianity. There is no extinction of the self in such a 
case, but, as stated by this eminent thinker, there is “ rather the 
opening up of the way to its true realisation.” 

But what is this true realisation ? If the potential identity of Man 
and God is admitted, and if it be true that there are possibilities in man 


3 See also Wilson’s Sstnkhya K&rika, 

p. 64, n. 

3 Bhag. Git. V, 15 : “ Wisdom is 
enveloped by unwisdom ; therewith mor- 
tals are deluded.” 

6 


3 ' 3TfT^I 5Tf^ I^r ’ Sae Devi 
Bh£gawata. 

4 Hudson. 

3 Deussen. 



82 


TAT-TWAM-ASI AND WESTERN THOUGHT. [CHAP. V. 


for union with God, (as to which see later on), why should it be sup- 
posed that they can never be realised? Why is man endowed with 
those possibilities, if they were intended never under any conditions 
to be realised ; why such equipment except for self-realisation? Chris- 
tian writers may think it blasphemous arrogance to entertain such 
an idea ; but those, who have no traditions to uphold, fearlessly assert 
that we have no right to say “ thus far and no farther/’ 

Western thought, it is said, “ has always tended to emphasise the 
distinctions of individuality and has been suspicious of anything that 
looks like juggling with the rights of persons, human or divine.” Men 
like Inge try to distinguish the Christian doctrine of Unity from the 
Indian doctrine ; in the latter, according to him, everything is ulti- 
mately swallowed up and lost in ‘ the white radiance or black darkness 
of an empty Infinite ’ ; while ‘ the aspiration of European Mysticism 
is,’ says he, ‘ to find the unity which underlies all diversity, or, in 
religious language, to see God face to face. From the Many to the 
One is always the path of the European Mystic 

But Rev. Charles Kingsley has the candour to admit that, however 
startling this idea of ‘ deification 5 may appear to Christian readers 
of the present times, they are bound to acknowledge that their own 
sacred writings and the utterances of their own Saints countenance 
such an idea 1 . 

The author of 4 Theologia Germanica ’ is most emphatic on this 
point. The highest idea is, according to him, as said above, that 
‘ God and man should be wholly united, so that it can be said of a 
truth that God and Man are one ’. 

The truth is that the intuitive faculty, which is always with us, is 
never so much prized in Europe as the faculties which are developed 
by labour and effort. The development of this faculty is more a matter 
of the heart than of the head. The culminating result of this develop- 
ment is to find God who is ever within us, or, as the Advaitin would 
say, we find God, for we are he. The author of ‘ Theologia Germanica’ 
tells us, and rightly, ‘ God can be known only by God 

This may sound blasphemous to modern European thought, but 
it must be remembered that, ex hypothesi , the man who uses this 


1 See ‘ Indian Review * for June 1905. 



Chap, v.] tat-twam-asi and western thought. 83 

language, has, at this stage, transcended the limitations of externality — 
the limitations of the external senses and the intellect — and is in the 
region, where the relations of Time and Space, Cause and Effect, and 
all the differentials they imply, have no place. 

Some writers consider this to be an absorption in the Divine vision, 
and an annihilation of all consciousness of oneself and of the World. 
How illogical and irrational is such a view, if spiritual enlightenment 
means an opening up of the way to Self-realization ? What the exact 
experience of Self-realization is, those only are competent to say who 
have reached that condition of bliss ; blit it can never mean an anni- 
hilation of anything, since nothing is annihilated in evolution and 
development, all is assimilation and transformation. Some writers 
call ifc transmutation or glorification; others call it Reintegration 
into the bosom of the Iniinite, as a living factor of the Parabralima. 

The happy illustration taken by Scotus Erigena from Plotinus may 
well be referred to in this connection. “ As iron, when it becomes' 
red-hot, seems to be turned into pure fire, but remains no less iron 

than before, so when rational substances pass into God, they 

do not lose their identity, but preserve it in a higher state of./ 
being 

If, therefore, the Indian conception is “ juggling ”, the so-called 
juggling is there — in the Bible, in the epistles of the Apostles, in the 
utterances of St. Athanax. 

Another objection 1 taken by European writers to the Indian ideal 
of tat-twam-asi is that it involves the destruction of Nature and means 
Acosmism. 

The general apprehension of these writers seems to be that the 
view which the Indian Advaila takes of this problem, though philoso- 
phically correct, involves the destruction of one of the terms, which 
enters into the conception of their theory of knowledge and, likewise, 
of their theory of Being, according to the Cartesian Dualism of Matter 
and Mind, 

I have already answered, in some measure, this objection in the 
previous chapters. But assuming that my answer, so far as I have 
been able to discuss the question, is wrong, and assuming also that the 


1 See objection No. Ill noted at p. 75 supra . 



84 


TAT-TWAM-ASI AND WESTERN THOUGHT. 


[CHAP. V. 


Advaita position of “ One without a Second ” does involve the destruc- 
tion of the world of sense-experience, such a result must be accepted, 
if it is philosophically true. 

Without repeating what I have said elsewhere, I may well ask e Are 
we quite sure that the physical world is after all a physical world V 
Professor Drummond says that “ the preponderating view of science 
at the present (day) is that it is not.” “ It is impossible (says Prof. 
FitzGerald) to resist the conclusion that all Nature is living thought.” 
So, too, says Leibnitz. It is only a cerebral phenomenon, according 
to Schopenhauer. 

“ The presence of a special world outside us — material atoms and 
forces — these are all ideas , without using which, not only the common 
but the philosophic understanding, which denies their validity, would 
not be able to rightly observe and handle the external world. In all 
these cases we do not get at the truth, but only at a picture or figurative 
appearance, by means of which we can make clear to ourselves the true 
relations of the real world, which in thei/iselves cannot be expressed .” 1 

Again, are we sure that our senses convey to us the truths of Nature 
correctly ? Or, is it not true that the impressions conveyed by them 
have, in many cases, to be corrected by reflection ? Heraclitus tells 
us that our senses are c liars.’ Eminent scientists and metaphysicians of 
modern times, likewise, say that the senses are seldom trustworthy. M. 
Flammarion 2 gives us an analysis of the testimony of the senses thus: — 

“ We see the sun, the moon and the stars revolving, as it seems 
to us, round us. That is all false. We feel that the earth is 
motionless. That is false, too. We see the sun rise above the horizon ; 
it is beneath us. We touch what we think is a solid body. There is 
no such thing (as a solid body). We hear harmonious sounds ; but 
the air has only brought us silently undulations that are silent them- 
selves. We admire the effects of light and of the colours that bring 
vividly before our eyes the splendid scenes of Nature ; but, in fact, 
there is no light, there are no colours. It is the movement of opaque 
ether striking on our optic nerve which gives us the impression of 
light and colour. We burn our foot in the fire ; it is not the foot that 
pains us ; it is in our brain only that the feeling of being burned resides. 
We speak of heat and cold ; there is neither heat nor cold in the uni- 


1 See p. 49 eupra. 


a “ The Unknown,” p. 11. 



CHAP. V.] 


TAT-TWAM-ASI AND WESTERN THOUGHT. 


85 


verse, only motion. Thus, our senses mislead us as to the reality of 
objects round us.” 

What, again, are these objects which are round us ? T^kc, for 
instance, a tree and consider what it is. Mr. G. H. Lewes’ exposition 1 
of Fichte’s views on this point may be read here with profit. That 
exposition is given in the form of a dialogue between Realism and 
Idealism ; it is too long for quotation, but I give here a brief outline 
of it and ask the reader to compare it with the Indian solution of the 
question I have given elsewhere. 

Realist : I know that the tree, for instance, which I see is alto- 
gether independent of me. I did not create it ; I found it there out 
of me. The proof of this is that, if I turn away or shut my eyes, the 
image of the tree is annihilated, but the tree itself remains. 

Idealist : No, the tree itself does not remain ; the tree is but a 
phenomenon. You stare ? But tell me honestly what your con- 
sciousness informs you of the tree. Give me the plain fact, and no infer - 
ences from that fact. Is not the tree a mere name for your perception ? 
Does not your consciousness distinctly tell you that the Form, Colour, 
Solidity, and Smell of the tree are in you — that they are only affections 
of your mind ? 

Realist : I admit that ; but although these are in me, they are 
caused by something out of me. Consciousness tells me that very 
plainly. 

Idealist : Does it ? I tell you that consciousness has no such 
power. It can tell you only of its own changes ; but it cannot tran- 
scend itself to tell you anything about that which causes its changes. 

Realist : But I am irresistibly compelled to believe that there are 
things which exist out of me, and this belief, because irresistible, is 
true. 

Idealist : Stop, you run on too fast. Your belief is not what you 
describe it to be. The belief that things lie underneath all appearances 
is a philosophic inference , not your belief. Your belief simply is that 
certain things coloured, odourous, etc., exist ; so they do. But you 
infer that they exist out of you. Rash inference. Have you not 
admitted that colour, odour, taste, extension, etc., are but modifica- 


‘ History of Philosophy.* 



86 


TAT-TWAM-ASI AND WESTERN THOUGHT. 


[CHAP. V. 


tions of your mind, and, if they exist in you, how can they exist out 
of you ? They do not ; they seem to do so by a law of the mind which 
gives objectivity to our sensations. That in which these qualities 
are supposed to inhere, — the substratum of these qualities — is also 
necessarily a subjective substratum — not an objective one ; the two 
go together. 

In truth, what we call matter we know not. Its nature is unknow- 
able ; and this we designate the sat-vastu , the thing-in-itself of the 
Kantian system. The essential conditions of corporeal existence 
are Space, Time and Causality ; but these are themselves only the 
subjective forms of our intellect, and have no objective existence 
outside ourselves. And when we say we cannot know an objective 
existence except as being caused , or an object except as being in Space, 
or an event except as taking place in Time, we, in reality, mean that 
our knowledge of this objective existence or object or event is 
necessarily dependent upon the forms, which our own intellect 
furnishes, and through which sensuous affections reach us. it is 
the thing-in-itself \ sat-vastu, which appears to us in these forms. This 
sat-mstu is Brahma which, distorted through the media of Time, 
Space, and Causality appears as the material universe we call Nature . 1 

“ The whole of Nature ” (says Professor Deussen 2 ) “exists only 
under the pre-supposition of the forms of our intellect and has, apart 
from them, that is, in a metaphysical sense, no reality ; for it is 
nothing more than the unceasingly generated product of the sensuous 
affections and mental forms.” 

“ Another question ” says Hegel 3 ... u is raised when it 
is said, that the world or matter, inasmuch as it is regarded as having 
existed for all eternity, is uncreated and exists immediately for itself. 
The separation made by the understanding between form and matter 
lies at the basis of this statement ; while the real truth is that matter 
and the world, regarded according to their fundamental characteristics, 
are this Other, the negative which is itself simply a moment or element 

10/. J. Caird’s “University Ser- real sameness.” According to the 
mons, pp. 369-70 : — “ The seeming FeWwto the true philosophic view is 

constancy and invariableness of the that there is no universe outside of the 
outward World is but a vulgar AVrmn. 
illusion .... the things that abide a “ Metaphysios,” s. 71. 

are not thou which the eye sees or the » Q uo ted in Haldane’s “ Pathway,’ 

senses can grasp there„is no jj ( p , 34 . 



CHAP. V.] 


TAT-TWAM-ASI AND WESTERN THOUGHT. 


87 


of posited being. This is the opposite of something independent 
and the meaning of its existence is simply that it annuls itself, and is 
a moment in the process. The natural world is relative, it is appear- 
ance ; i.e ., it is this not only for us but implicitly, and it belongs to 
its quality or character to pass over and return into the ultimate Idea.” 

There is groat truth in the saying that “ the seen is the unreal, 
while the unseen is the real and science seems now to have admitted 
the correctness of this view. Philosophers of eminence like Berkeley, 
Taine, J. S. MiU, Baine, say that bodies have no real existence, and our 
own minds under illusion have transformed them into substances. 
“ Exterior perception is a pure hallucination,” (says Taine) ; “ spiri- 
tual essences are the only real,” says Lossius ; “ outside spirit there 
is no reality,” says Bradley. 

Such are some of the philosophical aspects of the problem of the 
universe. But the truths of philosophy must not be confounded 
with the truths of sense-experience. These last belong to a lower 
plane of thought, and have a validity of their own on that plane. 

What Bishop Berkeley has said in this connection may here be 
usefully referred to. To the question what becomes of the sun, moon 
and stars, of houses, rivers, mountains, trees, stones, nay even of our 
own bodies, if all things that exist, exist only in the mind and are 
purely notional, his answer is that “ by the principles premised, we are 
not deprived of any thing in Nature. Whatever we see, feel, hear or 
anywise conceive or understand remains as secure as ever, and is 
as real as ever. There is a rerum natura and the distinction between 
realities and chimeras retains its full force.” 

Or, as the Advaitin might put it, so long as we are not able to give 
up what we call our individual egohood as connected with our physi- 
cal personality, so long as we view this question with “ the eyes of the 
flesh,” the external world, whether as a world of appearances only 
or as having an independent existence, continues to be valid to our 
limited capacities. Our practical life is one thing and philosophical 
and spiritual enlightenment, another. The Eleatics and the Post- 
Platonic sceptics of ancient times, and Berkeley, Hume, Fichte 
and others, of the modern period, did not cease “ to live, breathe 
and feel,” because their philosophic sense told them that the world 
was a figment. 



88 TAT-TWAM-ASI AND WESTERN THOUGHT. [CHAP. V. 

It must always be borne in mind that such thinkers never went the 
length of denying all reality to the universe. They denied its reality 
only as an independent and self -subsisting entity . As stated before, no 
idealist has ever maintained that there is no sensible world ; all that 
is said is that the things which the world calls real arc mere appear- 
ances on the true Reality. At the same time it is fully acknowledged 
that it is by means of these very appearances (emblems as they are 
sometimes called) and the empirical knowledge gained through them 
that man could take further steps in advance, and ultimately reach the 
true Reality, for though veiling, they at the same time possess the 
capacity to reveal the presence of the deeper truth that consecrates 
them. 

This is exactly what the Indian Advaitin means when he says that 
the world is Mithya or illusory. He means nothing more than what 
Plotinus meant in his letter to Flaccus 1 . ‘ External objects’, he 
writes, 4 present us only with appearances, that is to say, are phe- 
nomenal only. Concerning them, therefore, we may be said to possess 
opinion rather than knowledge. The distinctions in the actual world 
of appearance are of import only to ordinary and practical men. Our 
question lies with the ideal reality that exists behind appearance. 
How does the mind perceive these ideas ? Are they without us, and 
is the reason, like sensation, occupied with objects external to itself ? 
What certainty could we then have, what assurance that our perception 
was infallible ? The object perceived would be a something different 
from the mind perceiving it. We should then have an image instead 
of reality. It would be monstrous to believe for a moment that the 
mind was unable to perceive ideal truth exactly as it is, and that we 
had no certainty and real knowledge concerning the world of intel- 
ligence. It follows, therefore, that this region of truth is not to be 
investigated as a thing outward to us, and so only imperfectly known. 
It is within us. Here the objects we contemplate and that which 
contemplates are identical — both are thought. The subject cannot 
surely know the object different from itself. The world of ideas lies 
within our intelligence. Truth, therefore, is not the agreement of 
our apprehension of an external object with the object itself. It is 
the agreement of the mind with itself. Consciousness, therefore, 
is the sole basis of certainty ’. 

1 Quoted in Max Muller’s ‘ Theosophy,’ pp. 430-1. 



CHAP* V,] 


TAT-TWAM-ASI AND "WESTERN THOUGHT. 


89 


Even such an unsympathetic writer as Gough 1 , who, as previously 
pointed out, is fond oi using expressions like fiction, fictitious, illusion, 
&c., in his interpretation of the Upanishads, has to admit that the 
unreality of the world maintained by the Advaitin is "an unreality 
for the philosopher intent on the one and only truth, relatively a reality 
for the multitude, to whom the world exists with all its possibilities 
of pain. . . to him [and to him only] that sees the truth, all these 
bodies and their environments will disappear, merging themselves 
into that fontal essence ; and the Self will alone remain, a fulness of 
unbroken and unmingled bliss .” 2 

But, curiously enough, many Christian writers and even some Indian 
Sanskritists influenced by Western thought, misinterpret Indian “ illu- 
pionism,” while they seem to understand that expression correctly 
in their interpretation of: European Idealism. 

It is the rigorous monism of men like Gaudapada and Shankar 
that has furnished a weapon to these thinkers, with which to attack 
the Indian Advaila . 

Shankar, it is true, has, again and again, used the expressions Mayd 
and Avidtfd , and stated that the world is illusory like a mirage, rope- 
snake or mother-o ’pearl. He has emphasised the Vedanta idea that 
Brahma alone is sat (real) and everything else asat (false), and this is 
considered as conveying the idea that the world is unreal in the sense 
of a positive blank. 

But I make bold to say that no Advaitin , not even Shankar, has ever 
denied all reality to the universe when he maintains that it is asat 
(unreal). I shall have to discuss this question at considerable length 
in my Article on the Philosophy of Shankara Acharya ; 3 but it is neces- 
sary to touch here on some of the salient points of that philosophy 
and quote his utterances in the original even at the risk of being some- 
what tedious. 

In the first place, the critics of Shankar must remember what these 
words sat and asat mean in Vedantic terminology. It is undisputed 
that sat is used to denote an existence which is eternal and changeless, 
and whatever has not this characteristic is necessarily asat. In this 

1 ‘Phil. Up,* p. 50. 3 Which unfortunately the author 

a jfofl qj did not live to write. — E d. 



90 


TAT-TWAM-ASI AND WESTERN THOUGHT. 


[CHAP. V. 


view of the question, was Shankar wrong in saying that this perishable 
world is asat (unreal) ? 

Shankar, it must be remembered, was a rigorous logician, and he 
was perfectly aware that any theory of illusion, such as has been erro- 
neously imputed to him, would have been self-contradictory as 
leading to the utter extinction of the very thinker of such a thought, 
and of the ground upon which that thought would be based. It 
would have been acosmism with a vengeance ! 

If Maya itself is the power ( dtmashakti ) of Brahma , or, as some 
choose to say, the power of God acting under the saltAsphiirti of Brahma, 
and if the universe is its manifestation on the immanent Brahma 
itself and nowhere else, which owing to its transient and ephemeral 
character is considered asat (unreal), then this unreality could not 
possibly mean an absolute nothingness. 

As observed by Principal Caird 1 on a somewhat similar occasion 
“ Though we have reduced the world of experience to a mere appear- 
ance or accident, yet, as appearance or accident, it has an existence 
which still needs to be accounted for . Say that it is but a vain show, 
a vapour that appeareth for a little and vanishes away; yet, the ques- 
tion still arises, Whence came it ? Why is it ? What is the reason 
of its existence ? If we are such stuff as dreams are made of, yet our 
very dreams have a relation to a real and waking life, and even the 
vagaries of slumber, in their extravagance and fleetingness, point to 
a something more substantial, of which they are the reflection. The 
world of experience may be insubstantial and phenomenal, still, in 
the reality which we seek beyond that world, there must be something 
that accounts for it, and does not merely annul it ; and that is more in- 
finite, if we may use such an expression, which contains and explains 
the finite, than that which denies or ignores it. . . . By its own 

necessary movement therefore, thought goes in quest of such an idea — 
the idea of an Infinite — whose existence explains both itself and the 
existence of the finite world. ” 

The same learned author speaks in the same strain when referring 
to a similar doctrine of Spinoza. He remarks, “ though everything 
else in the finite world is resolved into negation, the negation itself 


1 ‘Phil, Eel.,’ pp. 131-2. 



CHAP V.] 


TAT-TWAM-ASI AND WESTERN THOUGHT. 


91 


is not so resolved. Evanescence itself does not vanish. When you 
have reduced all finite things to phantoms, unsubstantial as the things 
of a dream, the dream world itself remains to be accounted for ; and 
more than that obviously the mind , which 'perceives and pronounces that 
it is a dream world cannot belong to that world. In ascribing to 
intelligence the function of rising above and abolishing the distinction 
from substance of finite things, Spinoza virtually exempts intelligence 
itself from the process of abolition. The criterion of the illusory cannot 
be itself illusory . r 

The reader would no doubt feel delighted in finding how closely 
this reasoning accords with that of Shankar. When he adduced 
the instance of a mirage or of the mother-o’ pearl, or of the rope-snake 
to illustrate the doctrine of the Maya, he did not fail to posit the 
reality of the thing which lay underneath the appearance which was 
mistaken for something else ; “ the dreamland ” in which “ the 
dream ” is experienced is thus accounted for. 

In his comment on the Bhagvafc Gita (XIII. 14) Shankar distinct 
ly says, 4 4 everywhere the sat is present ; not even the mirage 
and the like can exist without a basis. 

WrU \ 

Is not this a sufficient answer to those Sanskritists who 
persist in saying that if the instances of the mirage, rope- 
snake, &c., are quoted as illustrations, Shankar can never 
have meant to ascribe any kind of reality to the world of sense- 
experience. But nothing can be clearer from his writings than 
this, that he predicates the reality of appearances — appearances 
on the sat-va$tu itself which is Brahma , and he adds that 
though no explanation can be given of these appearances, this 
much is certain, that they can have no reality apart from or in- 
dependent of the on which those appearances are manifested. 
( TOTTrrfout ). This is tantamount to saying that the world has 
a phenomenal reality and that, apart from or independent of the 
noumenon , it has no reality. 

1 The italics in this para, are the does not rest on some reality. There 
author’s. must be reality as the basis of illusion.” 

” Cf. Sureahvarlcterya “ We hare Se8 A ' M - Shastri ’ 8 Taitt U P‘ 247, 
nowhere experienced an illusion which 



92 


TAT-TWAM-ASI AND WESTERN THOUGHT. 


[CHAP. V. 


Shankar makes this position still clearer in other places. In his com- 
ment on a passage in Chhandogya Upanishad, 1 he formulates this 
question : — Does this mean that all we see is a non-entity, because 
the rope as the serpent is a non-entity ? And he answers that question 
by saying, “ No, we say, it is sat itself that is mistaken for dualities 

and diversities, and there is no non-existence anywhere 

It is sat alone which names and is named as other things ; just as the 
rope that is named serpent under the notion of its being a serpent 
. . . While those that know the rope set aside the name and the 

idea of the serpent, ... in the same manner, those, that have a 
discriminating knowledge of sat , set aside all words and ideas denoting 
the modifications ”. 

So also in MAndukya, 2 he says, no imagination can stand upon nothing; 
it must have a substratum to rest upon and that substratum is Atman 
{Brahma), It is the Atman itself that is imagined to be something else. 

It is the All-pervading Paramdtma 3 itself which appears disguised 
as Sthiila (gross), SuJcshma (subtle) and Kdrana (causal) bodies. All 
the Universe is Brahma and what is predicated of that Universe has 
no existence separate from the substratum . 4 

So far with regard to the phenomenal reality of the world. 

Then, as to the thinker of the thought that the world is unreal, 
Shankar, too, like Spinoza, exempts that thinker from ‘ the illusion \ 
Being the prim of such a thought, being himself the “ criterion of 
the illusory ”, he cannot be and is not illusory. He is absolutely real.5 


1 VI, 2-3. The original text is 
worth quoting : — 

3?^ frft «$T^rrsr?r 

jitor * i 

rrs^ 

» II, 33:— 

frt ;rffr 

, * “ Atma Bodha,” 10 . * 


4 “ Viveka Chud&mani,” 233 

tTw^r rr^ jtsptr tt ftnj 1 

srrfamr^ PmrdftrrR 11 

s Shankar’s Gloss, on Mand. Up. II, 
32 

(the thinker, being ex hypothesi in 
existence prior to the thought, cannot 
be obviously described as [asaqunreal). 
Shankar refers to tho ‘ unitnagined 
residuum * which persists on the 
elimination of the ( kalpand ) idea, and 
which by reason of that very persist- 
ence is proved not to be an idea but 
the Reality. 

•• j 



CHAP. V.] 


TAT-TWAM-ASI AND WESTERN THOUGHT. 


93 


Again in his he says “ Though the popular belief 

is that nothing remains in the absence of things which are visible, 
still that,which is thus considered as nothing, is itself Brahma as would 
appear from the Veda/’ 1 

This he makes still clearer in his answer to the Nihilist, in the 
Vedanta Sutra, II, 2, 25. He there distinctly says that though every- 
thing else may be doubted, the doubter cannot doubt his own existence ; 
he cannot doubt his own personality in the manifoldness of experience. 2 3 

See also his “ Who doubts about His own existence ? 

Even if you doubt that, the doubter is no other than yourself”. 3 

In the face of such utterances, can any one doubt what Shankar 
really meant when he maintained the unreality of the universe? He 
undoubtedly maintained (what really all European idealists do) that 
there is one and only one Ultimate Reality (called Brahma in the 
Vedanta) and that nothing, independent of it, is, anything divorced 
from it, being a non -entity ; and what appears as the external world 
is but a form of manifestation of Brahma itself on itself. 

This truth, Shankar distinctly says, is only a philosophic truth, 
which only the enlightened can appreciate ; to the rest, the world, 
which appears as a self-subsisting entity, is as real as anything real 
can be j 

2 Cf. Pancha Dasi, 111, 29-33. 

3f3?3 3I33T%f3 3135 3I33;3It%3 : I 
3T3 * f*3Il%J5fl 5[l% 3f331T%5: II 

arnTflTOffg ,"33q. I 

wrs 151*33 33^3 33 n 

3%iv 3 i%%%3i?r i%r%353 3 * 1.1 

>M 3313 1%% RPT13 31551% 1% II 
®13 33 Mf33I% 3lf%3T 5t33 ; 35 : I 
9 3%faflf3Tf 33335313135:33: II 
f5 53 3 31335333 51331*5(313 I 

35T33tsl3553 : 3 3331 31331 33: II 

3 313fl%33R33*f 3R3R3 3513' 33: 


3311*1 3513% 351i33r 3: 3 33 3313 f3q.ll 
1 Shankar’s k Vakya Sudha,’ 40-41: 
“ To the practical person, the world 
actually exists ; lie considers it as 
real ; while the philosopher considers 
it as unreal. To the philosopher, 
Brahma alone is real ; he sees or per- 
ceives nothing else ; and if ho, at all, 
sees anything else, it is as unreal in 
essence ( anritdtmand ) ” 

[ ’3T3flR313fl3g 3133. 3S313?1K31 I 
3?3 3?tl3 mwtffT 3^33 3T13#3> * II 
5T53Tl%3rT33T 3^3? 3I53I&3i I 
3%f3 3333 315*3 3f?3R33T II 1 

Cf. Shankar’s Gloss on Ved. Sutr. I, 1, 
12; S. B. E. Vol. 34, p. 66: “The 
Shastra (Scripture) wishing to convey 
information about the primary Self, 
adapts itself to common notions, 



94 TAT-TWAM-ASI AND WESTERN THOUGHT. [CHAP. V. 

And what is more important still is that he maintains the necessity 
of the phenomenal reality for the religious and spiritual enlightenment 
of Man. In his comment on Veddnta Sutra , for instance, he expressly 
says that the body with its intellectual equipment, constituting his 
living personality, is necessary, for “ without a knowing agent, the 
means of right knowledge cannot operate .” 1 

Again, in Chhandogya 2 Upanishad : “ though the Self is One without 
a Second, free from all the limitations of Time, Space, &c., yet ordinary 
people of unenlightened intellect have a firm conviction, that all reality 
is limited by Space and Time ; accordingly, to make the subject intel- 
ligible to these people (without which their spiritual enlightenment 
is impossible) Brahma is now taught as conditioned by these limita- 
tions . . . Desires for earthly happiness have to be taken into account, 
for it is impossible to remove all at once such desires, which are the 
product of individual karma extending over many embodied exis- 
tences.” The text referring to such people says “ Let them come to 
the proper path gradually, we shall make them understand what the 
Real Truth is.” 

It is by means of the universe and the objects contained in it, that 
the highest truth is grasped 3 . 

It will thus appear that the Indian Advaita does not contemplate 
any drastic results in the practical life of Man. The non-duality which 
it advocates does not mean the annihilation of the universe as we see 
it. “No man,” says Shankar, “can actually annihilate the whole existing 


in so far as it at first refers to tlie body 
consisting of food, which, although 
not the Self, is by Very obtuse people 
identified with it; it then proceeds 
from the body to another Self, which 
has the same shape with the preceding 
one, just as the statue possesses the 
form of the mould into which the 
molten brass had been poured; then, 
again, to another one, always at first 
representing the Non-Self as the Self, 
for the purpose of easier comprehension ; 
and it finally teaches that the inner- 
most Self whioh oonsists of bliss, is the 
real Self. * * The italics are the Editor’s. 



ftur cjfor 

The original has been quoted here, 
because it is far more clear and suggest- 
ive than the translation — ED. 

Shankar’s Gloss on Ved. Sutr. 1, 
1 ; S. B. E. Vol. 34, p. 7. 

[ * ^ arftmsprcfcn swtu 

#rci<r ] 

2 VIII, 1, 1. 

3 See Shankar on Chh&nd. Up. 
VII, 17 ; and Mdnd. Up. Ill, 15. 



CHAP. V.] TAT-TWAM-ASI AND WESTERN THOUGHT. 


95 


world with all its animated bodies and all its elementary substances, \ 
such as earth and so on ; if this were possible, the very first liberated 
soul would have done it once for all, so that at present the whole world 
would be empty, the earth and all other substances having been 
finally annihilated.” 1 

What is said to happen is that in the case of a person who has reached 
the stage of self-realisation, and recognised his identity with Brahma , 
to him and to him alone all appears as one Brahma ; he and he alone 
sees, in that attitude, this apparently self-subsisting world “ melting 
away lik<~ the imagery of a dream.” So long as there is no such com- 
plete self-realisation, “ wc may (adds Shankar) repeat the Scriptural 
text a hundred times, 4 know Brahma and dissolve the world,’ we shall 
never be able to do either tli3 one or the other.” 2 

Till such sel [-realisation ensues, that is, till the knowledge of Brahma 
being thr self of all has arisen, the phenomenal world is considered 
as true, and there is no reason (says Shankar) why the ordinary course 
of secular and religious activity should not hold on undisturbed 3 . 

In fact, the usefulness of ( Samsdra ) worldly experience, for its limited 
aims and ends, is so far recognised, that it would be even a mistake to 


1 Shankar’s Gloss on Ved. Sutr. Ill, 
2, 21 ; S. B. E. Vol. 38, p. 163. The 
whole passage is worth quoting : 
“ We ask our opponent of what nature 
that so-called annihilation of the ap- 
pal out world is. Is it analogous to tho 
annihilation of hardness in butter, 
which is effected by bringing it into 
contact with lire ? Or, is the apparent 
world of names and forms, which is 
super-imposed upon Brahman by Nesci- 
ence, to be dissolved by knowledge, just 
as the phenomenon of a double moon, 
which is due to a disease of the eyes, is 
removed by the application of medicine ? 
If the former, the Vedic injunctions bid 

us to do something impossible ; for no 
man can actually annihilate this whole 
existing world, with all its animated 
bodies, and all its elementary substances, 
such as earth and so on. And if it 
actually could be done, tho first liberated 

Soul would have done it once for all, 
so that, at present, the whole world 

would be empty, earth and all other 
substances having been finally annihi- 
lated, — if the latter, i.e., if our opponent 
maintains that the phenomenal world 
is super-imposed on Brahman by Nesci- 


ence, and annihilated by knowledge, we 
point out that the only thing needed is 
that the knowledge of Brahman should 
be conveyed by Vodic passages, sub- 
Jating the apparent plurality, super- 
imposed upon Brahman by Nescience, 
such as * Brahman is one without a 
second ’ &c. As soon as Brahman 
is indicated in this way, knowledge, 
arising, of itself discards Nescience, this 
whole world of names and forms, which 
had been hiding Brahman from us, 
melts away like the imagery of a dream. 
As long, on the other hand, as Brahman 
is not so realized, you may say a hun- 
dred times, ‘ Cognize Brahman ! Dissol- 
ve this world l* and yet we shall be 
unable to do either the one or the 
other.” — ED. 

* Ibid . 

3 Shankar’s Gloss on Ved. Sutr. II, 
1, 14 ; S. B. E. Vol. 34, p. 32 ' The 

entire complex of phenomenal existence 
is considered as true as long as the know- 
ledge of Brahman being the Seif of all has 
not arisen ; just as the phantoms of a 
dream are considered to be true until the 
Sleeper wakes.” — ED. 



96 


TAT-TWAM-ASI AND WESTERN THOUGHT. 


[CHAP. V. 


suppose that one, who is on the way to perceive spiritual truths by 
close introspection, becomes oblivious of the external world, or 
indifferent to his relations in it and the duties they involve. While 
rising higher and higher, and living a larger and larger self, he is still 
in this world of relativity — this world of the one and many, — and is 
bound to do his duties here, and retain all the activities which, in his 
embodied existence, it is improper for him to neglect and even im- 
possible for him to avoid 1 . To him, therefore, his lower or individual 
self and the world are as real as anything real can be ; only his idea of 
the reality would be much more exalted than of a person who is entirely 
uninitiated. 

Even the Jivan Mukta 2 (person liberated while in bodily existence) 
in the Indian system does not altogether lose his individuality or his 
sense of the reality of the world of sense-experience. He no doubt 
is. able to realise its unreality as a differentiated and self-subsisting 
entity, and he is now in a position to estimate the things of sense - 
experience at their true value. One writer describes him as having 
reached his “ re -integration into the bosom of the Infinite, there to 
live in omniconsciousness, in omnipotence, as a living factor of Para - 
brahma 

The idea is that, instead of being absorbed in Brahma , he remains 
centred in It as in his home, and, from that centre, carries on his mission 
of regenerating mankind and becoming their Saviour. Even after 
his physical death he may become re-incarnate in this world ; and if 
he prefers this voluntary descent for the uplifting of others needing 
his spiritual guidance, he would be in this world, but not of it. 

It may, indeed, be that the perfection, which a Jivan Mukta is sup- 
posed to have attained, is only partial, for it can have reference only 
to the cosmic evolution pertaining to the particular planetary or 
solar system to which he belongs — an evolution which in its nature 
can only be partial, — if he has to move on and with the entire universe 


1 ‘ Bhag. Git. * III, 5 : — “ Nor can any 
one, even for an instant, remain really 
actionless ; for helplessly is everyone 
driven to action by the qualities born of 
nature.” 

- Jivan Mukta is a person who has, 
n this life, obtained Mukti or liberation, 
which is the real object of the Veddnta 
Philosophy, viz., to overcome all Nesci- 


ence, to become once more what the 
Atman always has been, viz., Brahman . 
He has, however, to wait till death 
removes the last Upddhis or fetters, 
which, though they bind the mind no 
longer, remain, like broken chains, 
hanging heavy on the mortal body. See 
Max Muller’s ‘Six Sys. Ind. Phil.,’ p. 
236, — ED. 



CHAP. V.] TAT-TWAM-ASI AND WESTERN THOUGHT* 97 

and acquire universal experience for his complete self-development. 
If the cosmic evolution is itself progressive, the evolution of the J ivan 
Mukta also must be supposed as progressive and continuing. Endless 
evolutions have come and gone, and endless other evolutions must 
naturally be expected to occur ; each evolution means development 
and progress, and it is impossible to imagine when absolute perfection 
can be reached by man in this Myriad-worlded Universe. ( ananta-koti * 
Brahmdnda.) 

But when such perfection is reached, man “ will be a pillar in the 
temple of my God and, shall go out no more.” 1 He will be at one 
with the All ; Knowing and Being will be one in him. He will be a 
God in the Platonic sense. This is precisely the view set forth by 
Herbert Spencer as the consummation of human evolution, when 
absolute power and supreme knowledge result 2 . 

In such a case, Subject and Object will become One ; the individual 
Self will become the Self of All ; and the Indian ideal tat-twam asi 
(Thou art That) will have been fully realised. 

1 New Testament, Rev. Ill, 12. 9 Cf. Buck. 


7 



CHAPTER VI. 

PANTHEISM AND THE VEDANTA 1 . 


By far the most serious objection taken to the Vedanta ideal of 
tat-twam-asi is that it is a species of Anti-theistic Pantheism 2 which 
is generally designated Acosmism. It is said that it destroys all sense 
of Individualism and strikes at the root of all the fundamental moral 
convictions and spiritual aspirations of humanity. 

In the first place, it is necessary to ask what is Pantheism. Are Chris- 
tian writers themselves agreed as to what is really meant by the term ? 

While Christian philosophers generally charge Absolute Idealists 
as Pantheists, saving their own Pantheism from the attack, European 
idealists, in their turn, stigmatise Oriental Pantheism as anti-theistic 
and, therefore, different from their own, alleging that that Pantheism 
makes no distinction between good and evil, virtue and vice, and 
considers them all as immanent in God. Though each one justifies 
his own Pantheism and picks holes in the Pantheism of others, it is 
noteworthy that most of these join in condemning Oriental Pantheism 
in no measured terms. 

One instance will suffice to show what I mean. Professors Flint 
and Upton charge Hegelianism as unmitigated Pantheism, the latter 
naming the two eminent brothers Caird, in this connection. Principal 
J. Caird , 3 * in his turn, severely criticises the Pantheism of the Hindus 
as inevitably immoral in its tendency, and thus accounts for the 
" unbridled license of a sensuous idolatry ” resulting in a social system, 
in which “ the grossest impurities are not only permitted, but perpe- 
tuated under the sanction of religion, 5 ' — a whole nation thus charged, 
on what authority, it is left to the reader to imagine. 


1 Originally contributed to the ‘Indian 

Review*, for 1905, pp. 627-632. In 

reading this Chapter, reference may be 
usefully made to two articles on “ Im- 

manence” and “Transcendence** in the 

Hibbert Journal for 1907, especially 


pp. 751, 777 and 923. 

3 This has a reference, to objection 
No. 4, noted at p. 75 supra . 

8 ‘ Phil. Eel.* pp. 321 ,323. 



CHAP. VI.] 


PANTHEISM AND THE VEDANTA. 


99 


But Hegel 1 himself does not charge us as Pantheists at all. He 
calls such systems as those of the Indian Vedanta and Spinoza 
“ the philosophical systems of substantiality. ,, 

Professor Flint 2 , too, exempts us from the charge of anti-theistio 
Pantheism, for, according to him, no system which does not include 
determinism and exclude freedom is truly Pantheistic, and he 
expressly excludes the Pantheism of India, for, says he, it “ has 
always been, to some extent, combined or associated with Theism ;” 3 
although, under a complete misconception of the Vedantic ideas of 
Illusion and Nescience, he considers the central idea of the Veddnta to 
be a “ false conclusion from a false principle” 4 . 

From the historical development of the idea of Pan, which meant 
in Greece the Shepherd God, Pantheism appears to express a kinship 
between all things — one universal life being manifested in all — one 
universal brotherhood — a brotherhood with nature in its fulness. 
Animism, Plato’s World-soul, anima mundi , the Veddnta Hiranya-gar- 
bha — all these are more or less suggestive of the same idea, that there 
is one eternal Being in whom all “ live, move and have their being.” 
It represents the Atinan of all that is. 

We find Pantheism commonly defined as a “ doctrine which refers 
all phenomena to a single, ultimate constituent or agent — the opposite 
of dualism.” 

It is that doctrine which “ identifies God with the entire universe, 
which beholds him in the movement of the tiniest insect or in the 
lustre of the brilliant gem ; in the mind of a Socrates or in the brain 
of a Newton;” 5 — as One Universal Existence, acting from within , as a 
Pervading Omnipresent Power, and not from without , as an anthro- 
pomorphic person . 6 

This is a belief which has been entertained by thoughtful people 
from the most ancient times. In India, it is ingrained in the mind 
of every Hindu and every Sufi, high or low. In Greece, Pythagoras 
and the Eleatics held the same view ; also the Platonists and the 
Neo-Platonists. Servetus, Giordano Bruno, and Vanini, were burnt 

1 “ Phil. Rel.” Vol. I, p. 97; of. also 4 Ibid . pp. 345, 350. 
ibid . Vol. 3, pp. 319-320. 5 1 Hist. Panth. Vol. I p. 252. 

a “ Anti-theistio Theories,* p.337. 6 Ibid, Vol. II, p 329. 

3 Ibid . pp. 341 343. 



100 


PANTHEISM AND THE VEDANTA. 


[CHAP, VI. 


alive as heretics for this belief. And although modern Idealists have 
differed in matters of outward form, they are all agreed as to the main 
idea. Even Agnostics like Herbert Spencer may be named in this 
connection. 

So that one may fairly say that Pantheism argues a higher order 
of intelligence, which cannot be lightly shoved aside, to make room 
for the popular idea of an anthropomorphic or an extra-mundane 
God, creating the universe from nothing and governing as a Big King 
sitting on his throne, high in a region inaccessible to man. 

And what has been thus believed from the most ancient times has 
only now begun to be confirmed by European Science as scientifi- 
cally true also. 

“From the time of the Vedic writers” (says the anonymous 1 author 
of the History of Pantheism) “ up to that of our most modern philoso- 
phers, there had been a growing belief in God as the One Universal 
Existence, whose outward manifestation displays itself through all 
phenomena and .... what philosophy had, for thousands of years, 
persistently asserted, Science [is] at last beginning to verify .... 
Pantheism seems the necessary outcome of these discoveries [of modern 
science ].” 2 

There is no religion “ from Indian Brahminism to English Protes- 
tantism,” nor philosophy “ from Thales to Hegel,” which might 
not be called Pantheistic . 3 And it is difficult to understand why Chris- 
tian writers should be so much in dread of Pantheism. Does not 
the teaching of Jesus himself “ I in thee and thou in Me that both 
may be made one ” amount to Pantheism ? 

Again, is not Pantheism implied in the somewhat elevated passages 
even in the Old Testament ? Take, for instance, “ Whither shall 
I go from Thy Spirit, or whither shall I flee from Thy presence ? If 
I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there ; if I make my bed in hell, 
Thou art there also. If I take the wings of the morning, and remain 
in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there also shall Thy hand lead 
me, and Thy right hand shall hold me.”* 

M ^ 3ord Harr i son blinks that » Ibidm VoI . n , p . 325 . 

Mr. C. E. Plumptre is the author of that 

work. See “ Notes on the Margins,” W* Hunt. 

p. 116 n. „ 4 Psalms, CXXXIX, 7-10. 



CHAP. VI.] 


PANTHEISM AND THE VEDANTA. 


101 


Again, “ Am I God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar 
off ? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him ? 
saith the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth ? saith the Lord.” 1 

What, again, is the meaning of St. Paul’s saying, “ For ii God we 
live and move and have our being.” 2 * 

Yet Professor Flint3 says : “ There is no Pantheism in the Bible. . . 
to call language of the kind [noted above] Pantheistic has no warrant 
in reason, and no other tendency than to mislead.” Such language, 
he says, is common to Pantheism and Theism, and “ distinguishes 
both from Deism. . . [Pantheism] cannot consistently conceive 

of [God’s presence] as a personal and spiritual, but only as a natural 
and necessary presence. . . as substance, force and law, not as reason, 
love and will.” 

If Pantheism represents God and Nature as eternally and necessarily 
co-existent and co extensive, the Pantheism of the Vedanta also must 
be excluded from that category, for it recognises the Freedom of the 
Will both in God and Man. When it talks of nature, it tries to explain 
it, to our empiric consciousness, as sprung into being by the Acshana 
of Brahma , that is, by the thought and will of Brahma or by the Word 
or by Emanation or by Mdyd , the inseparable power of Brahma . 4 * 

No Vedantin ever says that every object, we see in this world, in its 
state of apparent isolation and self-subsistence, is Brahma . Such 
an absurd ideas has never come into anybody’s head outside of the 
ranks of these opponents of Pantheism ”. The language of the Veddn - 
tin is that there is Brahma everywhere, and nothing independent of 
it is. His deification of the world is, in no way, different from the 
Christian deification, which, according to Principal Caird 6 , is “ not an 
apotheosis of the world as it is to the outer eye, but of the world as 
its hidden significance is revealed, of the world as it is seen sub specie 
eternitatis .” 7 


1 Jer. XXIII, 23, 24 

* Acts, XVII, 28. 

* “ Anti. Theo. ” pp. 384-5. 

4 See supra . 

* Hegel’s ‘ Phil. Rel. ’ Vol. 3, p. 319. 

6 • Phil. Rel.’ p. 322. 

Cf. Bhag. Git., Ch. X, and XVIII, 
20-21 : “That by which one indestructi- 


ble Being is seen is all Beings, inseparate 
in the separated, know, then, that 
knowledge as pure. But that knowledge 
which regardeth the several manifold 
existences in all beings as separate, that 
knowledge know thou as of passion.” 

The main idea running through Ch. X 
of the Bhag. Git. has been well expressed 
by Hegel in his /‘Phil. Rel.,” Vol. I, p. 97, 
where he says, with referenoe to the 



102 


PANTHEISM AND THE VEDANTA. 


[CHAP. VI. 


“It were idly mischievous cruelty”, says Dr. Ballantyne, “to hurl 
[the charge of anti-theistic Pantheism] against the Vedantin. . . I 
here state my conviction, that those, who consider the Vedantins as 
Pantheists on this ground, would, in like manner, condemn St. Paul, 
if he were to reappear, declaring expressly what was implied in his 
asserting of God that in Him we live and move and have our 
being.” 

Those who maintain the doctrine of Unity are undoubtedly, in a 
sense, Pantheists, nolens miens. If, according to them, God fills 
all in existence with Himself alone, so that All is He, since He is All, 
if God is All, then All must be He, and from this fact there is no escape, 
and no other conclusion can be arrived at which does not do violence 
to all rational thought. But, as says Trine, people engrossed in bigo- 
try say that God is All and immediately begin to fill up the universe 
with that which God is not. 

It is obvious that the traditional prejudices of Christian writers, 
due mainly to Semetic influences, are so strong, that they 
apparently believe Sin and Evil to be objective realities, and 
then consider it shocking to their sense of Divine justice to connect 
God with them in any degree ; to suppose that God is in 
anything that is sinful or evil or even loathsome to man is, in 
their view, to take away from Him His character of purity, goodness, 
&c., &c. 

Calvin, one of the pioneers of the Reformation of the 16 th century, 
felt himself shocked, when his victim Servetus, at his trial for heresy, 
fearlessly said that “ this bench, this table and all you can point to 
around us is of the substance of God ” ; and when on this Calvin 
remarked that, on such showing, the Devil must be of God substan- 
tially, Servetus smilingly replied, “ Do you doubt it ? For my part, 
I hold it as a general proposition that all things whatsoever are part 


Indian conception, that “ [it] contains 
the thought that in everything the 
divine is only the universal element of a 
content, the essence of things, while at 
the same time it is also represented as 
being the determined or specific Essence 
of the things. When Brahma says, 
*1 am the brightness, the shining 
element in metals, the Ganges among 
rivers, the life in all that lives, &c.’, what 
is individual is done away with and 


absorbed. Brahma does not say, ‘ I am 
the metal, the rivers, the individual 
things of each kind by themselves, as such, 
as they exist immediately.’ The bright- 
ness is not the metal itself, but is the 
Universal, the substantial, elevated above 

any individual form ; What is 

expressed here is no longer what is called 
pantheism ; the idea expressed is rather 
that of the essence in such individual 
things.” — ED. 



CHAP. VI.] 


PANTHEISM AND THE VEDaNTA. 


103 


and parcel of God, and that Nature at large is His substantial mani- 
festation. ” 1 The end of the trial was that Serve tus was burnt alive ! 

Another writer 2 says that the God of the Pantheist is “by inclusion, 
every moral and immoral agent, and every form and exaggeration 
of moral evil, no less than every variety of moral excellence and beauty, 
is part of the All-pervading and All-comprehending movement of His 
universal life. If this revolting blasphemy be declined, then the 
God of Pantheism must be the barest of abstract Being.” 

Hence, the necessity of a personal God, in the Christian system, to 
escape the charge of 4 revolting blasphemy,’ — an extra-mundane 
God, whose immanence in Evil and Sin it would be highly impious 
to assert ! “It is belter (says Bacon) to have no opinion of God at all 
than such an opinion as is unworthy of Him.” 

Such a God has been secured in the Christian system. The present 
Christianity, says Professor Pflciderer 3 , “combines the transcendence 
of the Semetic and the immanence of the Indo-Germanic notion of God 
in the Christian synthesis of the God, who is above all, and through, 
all and in all. (Epiph. iv, 6.) It is called Panenthcism — a word, 
coined by Krause and Baader, to denote a reconciliation of Theism 
and Monism. Scholling calls it Concrete Monotheism.” 

Christianity is thus saved, from the lifeless Deism of the Theist, 
which isolates a man from God and the unmoral Pantheism of the 
Absolute Idealist which identifies them and effaces all true moral 
responsibility and all moral distinctions in the nature of God. 4 And 
it is to the Hebrew race that, according to him, “ the world owes a 
great debt of gratitude for saving modern culture from the two extremes 
of Pantheism and Materialism.” 5 


1 See also ‘Theol. Germ.,’ p. 188: “ The 

Devil is good in so far as he hath Being. 
In this sense nothing is evil or not good. 

All things have their being 

in God, and more truly in God than in 
themselves. Therefore all things are 
good in so tar as they have a Being, and 
if there were aught that had not its 
Being in God, it would not bo good.” 

See also J. Caird’s ‘Phil. Rel.,’ p. 322, 
where he says, with reference to the 
teachings of Christianity, “ to Christia- 
nity we owe also that deeper insight 
which can discern a Soul of goodness 
even in things evil — a divine purpose 


and plan beneath the discord of man’s 
passions, and the strife and sin of the 
world.” May we not ask if Shree 
Krishna did not voice forth the same 
sentiment ages ago, whon he said in the 
Bhag. Git. (X. 36) ‘‘I am the gambling 
of the cheat.” ( )— ED. 

* Liddon’s ‘ Elements of Religion.’ 

* " Phil. Rel.” Vol. Ill, p. 263. 

4 Upton’s ‘Hibbert Lectures* for 1893, 
pp. 287-8. 

5 Ibid. pp. 244-8. 



104 


PANTHEISM AND THE VEDaNTA. 


[CHAP. VI. 


Saved, indeed I but at what cost ? A transcendent God and imma- 
nent, too, but only in things which man in his wisdom may choose to 
consider good ! — a complete go-by being given to the logically consist- 
ent, philosophic and scientific position, that there can be no conceiv- 
able place or object, where God is not. It is forgotten that if there 
be any such place or object, God cannot be an Absolute Immanent 
God ; He would become isolated in such a case and, therefore, 
necessarily a limited God. The reasoning of the Pantheist is considered 
“ a narrow rationalising logic,” and the two ideas of Immanence 
and Transcendence, though obviously contradictory, when thus viewed , 
have become acceptable to Christian Philosophers. An outside 
God has thus saved them, it is supposed, from the charge of 
Pantheism. 

But, if we say that Brahma is immanent everywhere, and that 
there is no place or object where it is not, is our system a Pantheism, 
in the anti-theistic sense of the term ? From the most ancient times 
what the Veddnta has maintained is that, while Brahma is immanent 
everywhere, the universe that it manifests on itself occupies but a 
portion of it, so to speak. In the Purusha Sukta 1 of the Rig Veda, 
(X. 90) it is said : — Purusha has a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, 
a thousand feet ; He compasses the earth on every side and stands 
ten fingers' breadth beyond . . . . Such is his greatness, and 

Purusha is more than this : one quarter of him is all existing things, 
three quarters that which is immortal in the shy. 

In this view, it is rather the universe that is immanent in Brahma ; 
to use St. Augustine’s mode of expression, the universe is bounded in 
Brahma and Brahma bounded nowhere. 

There is no logical inconsistency in the Hindu conception. When 
once it is admitted that the eternal being is a spirit with complete 
freedom in its manifestations, the two ideas of Transcendence and 
Immanence are quite compatible in the same being. Its manifes- 
tations are on itself, and not outside it. 

1 The italics are the author’s ; see Cf. also Bhag. Git., X. 42 : “ Having 
the original text : pervaded this whole universe with one 

s fragment of Myself, I remain.” 

qflTC Vl See this text referred to by Shankar 

TWT II in his Gloss on Ved. Sutr. I, 1, 26. 



CHAP. VI.] 


PANTHEISM AND THE VEDaNTA. 


105 


At all events, the Indian Vedanta has stated the great problem 
“ in all its fulness/’ as Philo is said to have done, for the first time, 
in Europe 1 . 

The Vedanta has again and again asserted that while in the universe, 
which Brahma appears to have manifested on itself, there is always 
apparent strife and discord between each “ pair of opposites,” it itself 
is beyond that pair [ fe icffa ] while at the same time immanent 
in it. 

Whether under these circumstances the Veddnta system is Panthe- 
ism pure and simple, or no, it is most certain that it is not worthy of 
condemnation, unless the Pantheism of European idealists is. 

Pantheism, in the sense which 1 have referred to at the commence- 
ment of this article, while being logically consistent and philoso- 
phically correct, possesses certain advantages which even unsympathetic 
writers on Pantheism have to admit. It ministers moral strength 
to men by teaching them that God worketh in them and through 
them. It teaches them to rise above the good and evil of the visible 
and temporal world, and to yearn after eternal rest in the world of 
immutable being. It teaches them to sacrifice egotism and 
to glory in being parts and particles of God. 

Another writer, Canon Liddon*, equally non -pantheistic in his 
views, says as follows : — 

“ The great attraction and strength of Pantheism lies in the satis- 
faction which it professes to offer to one very deep and legitimate 
aspiration ; it endeavours to assure man of his real union with the 
source of his own and universal life. It is this profound idea, this most 
fascinating allurement, that can alone explain the empire which, in 
various ages and under various forms, Pantheism has wielded in human 
history.” After referring to the Eleatic, and Indian philosophies, 
to the systems of Spinoza, Schelling and Hegel, the writer proceeds 
to say “ Pantheism often presents a noble plea that God shall not 
be banished by modern thought from all real contact with humanity 

... it would make men partakers of the Divine nature. And this, 
its religious aim, is, beyond question, a main secret of its power.” 

1 E. Caird’s “ Evol. Gr. Theo ”, Vol. 2, 1 “ Elements of Religion.” p. 46. 

p. 208. 



106 PANTHEISM AND THE VEDaNTA. [CHAP. VI. 

Yet there is a large class of Christian writers, who think that the 
absolute unity which Pantheists advocate is only a delusion and a 
dream ; that it means nothing but the sacrifice or suicide of reason, 
the destruction of belief in a Personal God and of all the hopes and 
assurances attached to that belief. These writers can never remain 
satisfied without an extra-mundane God, in which case alone, according 
to them, there could be scope for Faith, Love and Hope. An Im- 
personal Absolute, say these writers, is something “ which neither 
knows itself nor cares for ns ! ! 

That unity is the logically correct conclusion deducible from the 
doctrine of Absolute Intelligence in Christian philosophy, is admitted 
by many writers like Noire, Upton and Inge, and the only reason why 
it becomes an article of discarded faith is that the profound ethical 
spirit of Christianity is, (it is said), opposed to this scientific 
idea, morality being possible only with self-determinism or indivi- 
dualism 1 . 

But, is philosophic truth to be sacrificed, lest its recognition might 
disturb the ethical ideal, shake the very foundation of religion, and 
result in mischievous consequences to society, assuming, for a moment, 
that such would be the consequences of the recognition ( 

It is the duty of philosophy, as has been again and again pointed 
out, to state the truth which can command universal acceptance. 
No doubt, philosophy is not to be separated from life, nor life from 
philosophy ; while explaining the life we are actually leading, philo- 
sophy must try to elevate it ; theology is nothing but the philosophy 
of religion. But truth ought not to be sacrificed to practical life ; 
the highest truth should always be held forth as the ideal, and religious 
consciousness should grow unfettered on the line that will lead to it 
as the goal. This is what the Indian Vedanta has done, and herein 
lies the strength of Hinduism as the sequel will show. 

Religion, understood in a higher sense, means a sphere in which 
“ mind transcends its finite forms,” and in this sense there can be no 
conflict between religion and philosophy. Religion, thus understood, 
indicates the regions in which all the riddles of the world are solved, 
all the contradictions of profounder thought illuminated, all the pains 
of feeling lulled to rest ; the region of eternal truth , of eternal peace . In 


1 Noire. 



CHAP. VI.] 


PANTHEISM AND THE VEDANTA. 


107 


its dealings with religion, the mind gets rid of all that is finite. These 
dealings bring it satisfaction and emancipation. Religion is a con- 
sciousness absolutely free, the consciousness of absolute truth, and so 
itself true consciousness 1 . 

But when it is said that philosophy is not religion, and that the former 
is for the few and the latter for the many, it evidently refers to religious 
life and not to theology. Religious life and conduct may vary with 
individual environment, but theological or theosophical truth must 
be the truth underlying them all. 

This, then, is the correct attitude to take ; when it is determined 
what the philosophic or highest truth is, that ought to be taken as the 
basic truth and ideal in life and conduct, and religious consciousness 
must grow in the direction and on the line of that ideal as the goal. 
It is no use saying that it is “ consummate folly ever to hope to attain 
it/’ and thus practically shutting it out from view. We must remem- 
ber that all growth means progress, and this must begin at the lowest 
rung of the ladder, and with individualism and empiric consciousness. 

Individualism and Freedom of the Will cannot possibly be ignored 
in the initial stages of development ; and it is only when individual 
consciousness in its progress is sufficiently expanded that larger views 
of things are possible, and a capacity is acquired to grasp spiritual 
truths. 

The Vedanta is, therefore, right in saying that there is no conflict 
between its doctrine of tat-twam-asi and the ethical ideal, which 
Christian writers are so much in dread of losing, by the recognition of 
the philosophic or highest truth. The one presupposes the other , and 
does not repudiate or ignore it, as is generally supposed. 

Ethics, morality, and religious life admittedly belong to the sphere 
of relativity — to the world of the One and Many ; but they are as 
much necessary to the development and spiritual progress of man 
as the initial stages in the development of a child are to his attaining 
manhood. The only avenue to the realm of things spiritual is the 
ethical one. 

Christian writers mostly take no note of these truths. As if it 
is an algebraic equation, they think that if Pantheism means All is 


i 


Hegel, Pfleiderer’s 4 Phil. Re!.,* Vol. II, pp. 82-3. 



108 


PANTHEISM AND THE VEDaNTA. 


[CHAP. VI. 


One and One is All, there cannot be any distinction between Virtue 
and Vice, &c., and a belief in Pantheism means a license for the grossest 
impurities in the name of religion. 

It does not occur to these writers to pause for a moment, and consider, 
if it is possible for any nation to deny the reality of evil in practical 
life, ignore the distinction between good and evil, virtue and vice, 
and yet continue as a nation for centuries. It never occurs to them 
to consider how it was that the Hindus (if such absurd doctrines pre- 
vailed among them) had been, from the most ancient times, a highly 
civilised nation, known for its respect for Truth and Virtue, for its 
readiness to forgive the evil-doer, and its sympathetic desire to relieve 
the needy and the oppressed. 

It is unnecessary to dwell here at length on this topic, as the recent 
controversy about the Eastern and Western conceptions has placed, 
beyond dispute, the high ethical ideal of the Hindus. 

If all this is true, Indian Pantheism can hardly be represented as 
“ striking at the root of all morality and obliterating the distinction 
between good and evil, virtue and vice.” 

Nor is there any reason for supposing that the system destroys the 
idea of individualism, so as to exclude the sense of moral responsibility, 
and literally reduce everything to one dead level. 

The Vedanta , while it holds forth Absolute Unity as the highest 
truth, distinctly recognises, in the sphere of Ethics and Morality, the 
principle of individualism as a sine qua non to the attainment and 
realisation of that truth. No individual loses his personality at least 
till self-realisation has ensued ; he still belongs to the sphere of Rela- 
tivity — the sphere of the One and Many — where the dualism of the 
Ego and Non-Ego of Man and Nature is fully recognised. 

The Veddnta takes full note of these factors, and insists that, if deve- 
lopment and evolution be the aim and end of all that has come into 
being, man must pass through the several stages of progress, involving 
his mental and moral culture, before he can expect to rise above 
intelligence and enter the spiritual sphere of the Absolute. A regular 
system has been formulated with this view, based, of course, on the 
philosophical ideal of tat-twam-asi in which moral distinctions are 
fully recognised. 



CHAP. VI.] 


PANTHEISM AND THE VEDANTA. 


109 


The Ved&nta recognises, what may be termed, qualitative differences 
between finite things, for, though Brahma is held to be equally imma- 
nent in all, its manifestations throughout the universe are not all 
alike . 1 * It recognises also the distinction between the higher and lower 
nature of man, and says that the Self being the same as the Supreme 
Self is eternally free, and man can, accordingly, control his lower 
nature, and elevate himself to a higher stage of being, by his own volun- 
tary action ( ^ ) ; it teaches that man, who is by nature free and 
perfect, but who is temporarily subjected to an environment affecting 
his natural position, must strive to rise above that environment by 
rigorous moral discipline, realise bis true nature and regain the heritage 
which he has, for a time, lost. 

This is variously expressed by the Indian sages in terjns perhaps 
more or less mystical ; but a careful consideration of their utterances 
leaves no doubt that in the spiritual salvation which each one has 
advocated, the ethical element is uniformly and imperatively insisted 
on, as a condition precedent to the attainment of the end in 
view . 3 4 

And the most important part of the moral discipline that is impera- 
tively insisted on, in every case, is that in all the actions that man 
will perform, in all the duties which he will be bound to discharge 
to other beings with whom he stands in domestic or other social rela- 
tions, he must act thoroughly in a spirit of disinterestedness, without 
attachment, and without any desire to obtain any reward ; in other 
words, he must do duty for duty’s sake ; and, lastly, he is 
told not only to look upon friend and foe alike, for there is no 
difference between his own self and the self of another, but he 
must even consider his enemy as himself and love him. “ Cross the 
passes so difficult to pass ; (conquer) wrath with peace, untruth with 
truth .” 3 


1 See supra. 

a Here is a Christian writer’s testi- 
mony: “Vedant declares that a righteous 
life and meritorious acts, though pro- 

moting godliness and preparing the 
heart for Moksha (liberation), cannot 
directly save. The Soul has yet to learn 
its Eternity and Divinity.” See * East 
and West* for 1906, pp. 773-774. 

4 Arka Parva, Sama Veda. 


[ strW 

See also Mahft Bharata, Shanti Parva, 
86 ; Manu Smriti, VI. 48, S. B. E. Vol. 
25, p. 207 : — 

“Against an angry man let him not in 
return show anger, let him bless when 
he is cursed.” 



110 


PANTHEISM AND THE VEDaNTA. 


[CHAP. VI. 


The ideal that All is One is constantly kept before man, while he 
is moving in this world of sense-experience, and he is told that this 
could be realised only after the ethical ideal is attained. If, therefore, 
he neglected his duties here and led an impure life, he could not be 
ripe for spiritual instruction, much less could self-realisation be 
possible in his case. 

Thus, instead of treating the ethical ideal as the goal, the Vedanta 
considers it simply to be the means — but the absolutely necessary 
means— to get at the highest truth. 

That such an ideal is calculated to give vitality to the religious and 
moral sense, there can be no doubt. To hold forth the idea of a uni- 
versal community is in itself a great boon ; and our immediate con- 
sciousness that we are in Brahma , the Eternal Reality, and Brahma 
is in us, and our feeling of the unity and identity of Brahma in the 
manifold forms of its manifestation, must assuredly give us a very 
exalted idea of Man’s mission on earth ; so that even if such an ideal 
be “ above and beyond,” we should feel that it is in striving to ap- 
proximate it that our lives would have worth. 

The position of the Indian Advaitin is that it is within Man's reach 
to realise the Indian ideal. 

How far he has succeeded in vindicating that position, and whether 
the Indian ideal is capable of proving to be of great value will be 
discussed in the next chapter. 



CHAPTER VII. 


THE ETHTCS OF THE VEDaNTA . 1 

In the previous chapter on Pantheism I have endeavoured to show 
that the ideal of tat-twam-asi is not at all incompatible with the ethical 
ideal, such as is insisted on in Christianity. The ethical ideal of the 
Veddnta is at least as high as the Christian ideal, if not higher, and 
occupies an important place in the Indian system. 

The greatest error which many Christian writers commit (and this 
can never be too often repeated) consists in their ignoring the dis- 
tinction which the Veddnta has emphasised, and which Philosophy 
ought always to emphasise in all its teachings, the distinction between 
the two kinds of knowledge — spiritual and empirical — called in the 
Veddnta, higher and lower, Para and a par a vidyd. I have already 
explained that the lower knowledge has reference to the world of sense 
experience, while the higher one is spiritual in its character. Both 
are recognised as essential to the development of man — one as a step 
to the other. But it would be absolutely unphilosophical to apply 
considerations, which are true in one sphere, to the other where they 
look obviously absurd. 

Ethics and Morality admittedly belong to the world of sense - 
experience, having, for their object, the development of man in 
practical life, which necessarily presupposes the dualism of Man and 
Nature finding their ultimate reconciliation and explanation in the 
Highest Reality, by whatever name that Reality may be called. 

Man’s relations to that Reality and his social and other relations 
are all recognised, and rightly recognised, in this sphere of Relativity ; 
all these relations reign supreme in this sphere. And it is ordained 
that man must first learn to do the duties which those relations imply 
and attain, by a course of moral discipline, the ethical ideal, before 
he can become fit for spiritual enlightenment. 


1 Originally contributed to the Indian Review for 1906, pp. 94*102. 



112 


THE ETHICS OP THE VEDANTA. 


[chap. VII. 


In the ethical system which the Veddnta has formulated, it recog- 
nises a principle, which is of the highest practical importance, th^t 
though religious truth, as philosophic truth, is and must be one that 
can only be reached by a course of life and study leading to spiritual 
enlightenment, and though the religious ideals of individuals in a com- 
munity may and do necessarily vary with the degree of general culture 
and aptitude for grasping spiritual truths, still, while thus differing 
in degree, they must have, as their basic truth, the highest ideal which 
is justified by Philosophy and Theology, and is capable of realisation 
at the highest stage. 

All considerations, which introduce an element of variety in Ethics 
and Morality, are thus subordinated to the highest ideal of tat-twam-asi> 
as to which it is always insisted on that it must be the aim of every 
individual to reach it. 

In this view of the matter, the Advaita is as practical in its religious 
and ethical aspects, as it is speculatively profound in its philosophy. 
I even venture to think that its teachings, if correctly understood, 
would be found to be capable of a very wide application and be of 
practical value as much to the king, to the statesman, to the patriot 
and to the citizen, as to other individuals in different walks of life. 
They furnish an excellent foundation for corporate political action 
and liberty. 

The key-note to the practical ethics of the Vedanta is abheda, as the 
key-note to its philosophy and theology is advaita. As advaita means 
Oneness without a Second, so abheda means Oneness without any 
distinction of I and Thou, Mine and Thine. 

This word abheda , when correctly understood, means Love in its purity 
and fulness, and the manifestation of the principle denoted by it con- 
sists in altruistic action and not in selfish inaction or passivity, as 
is generally supposed. 

In no system has this principle of Altruism been so well appreciated 
and emphasised as in the Indian Veddnta. The entire life of the 
Veddntin, it is ordained, must be one of disinterested self-sacrifice. 

This idea of sacrifice had its origin in the earliest Vedic literature, 
where the entire creation was explained as an act of supreme self- 
sacrifice — the sacrifice of the Supreme Being Purusha, that He might 
call into existence and contemplate and commune with those dependent 



CHAP. VII.] THE ETHICS OF THE VEDANTA, IV* 

images of Himself, which form the object of His thought 
and love . 1 This He did by sacrificing a fourth part of Himself.* 
“Let me sacrifice myself (He said) in living things and all living 
things in myself,” and He thus acquired greatness, self-effulgence 
and lordship. 3 He thus limited Himself by this partial sacrifice 
that His life might produce and sustain a multiplicity of separate 
lives. 

What is essentially suggested by this conception is the pouring out 
of life for the benefit of others — a truth underlying all evolution, 
physical as well as spiritual. 

Advaita philosophy has thus led to the ethics of Universal Love — 
a disinterested sacrifice of the heart in the service of all. 

The principle of abheda teaches man that though he himself is appa- 
rently an independent individual, there is the universal principle in 
him, in common with all other beings , 4 which has made him what hi 
is, and binds him to them all as parts of one organism, “ as beings 
all moving on one wheel (of universal life ), 55 as “ jewels threaded on 
a string .” 5 


1 See Mandukya Up.; see also Upton’s 
Hibberfc Lectures for 1893, p. 169. 

2 See the Purusha SfiJcta, Rig Veda, 
X, 90. See infra p, 184. 

8 Shatap. Br&h. XIII, 7, 1, where the 
great sacrifice involved in creation is 
beautifully described in the following 
terms : — “ Brahman, the Self -existent, 
performed tapas (austerities). He thought 
4 in tapas there is no infinity. Come, let 
me sacrifice myself in living things, and 
all living things in myself * Then hav- 
ing sacrificed himself in all living things 
and all living things in himself, he 
acquired greatness, Self-effulgence and 
lordship.’* 

^ jrr #3 arrant 

s re i fl ^ i crafts 

i ] 

See Translation ‘Sanatana Dharma,* 
Vol. 3, p. 126. Of, also Manu Smriti, 
I, 22, (S. B. E. Vol. 25, p. 12) where 
Manu declares that Brahma created 
the ‘eternal sacrifice* [31T 
ere He drew forth the Veda. Of, . also 
Bhag. Git. XV, 7, and especially 

8 


III, 10, where Shree Krishna de- 
scribes how Prajapati having created 
mankind together with Sacrifice 
[ : WT • ] bad © man find 

in sacrifice his Kdmadhuk, i.e.> the 
cow whence each could obtain the 
objects he desired. — ED. 

4 Bhag. Git. X, 39 : — “ and whatso- 
ever is the seed of all beings, that am I, 
oh Arjuna; nor is there Aught, moving 
or unmoving, that may exist bereft of 
me.” See also Ish. Up. 6. Hegel stat- 
ed the same truth when he observed : — 

“The comprehension of the identity 
of the Self with that other who is 
recognized as equally a Self, bound 
together with me in a common Social 
whole, is one of the instruments by 
which I work out my own self-com- 
prehension . ... When I think of M 
or N as in a Social world, with duties 
and obligations and common ties with 
other inhabitants of that world, then 
I have got to a larger and higher 
conception, and one at which I am 
above the externality of nature.” 
See Haldane VPathway’, II, p.138. — ED. 

5 Bhag. Git., XVIII, 61,and VII, 7. 



114 


THE ETHICS OF THE VEDaNTA. 


[CHAP, VII. 


It teaches him a most important lesson that he is not a solitary 
being on earth, but his very existence and weU -being are tied up with 
those of others. Wherever he may be, whether alone by himself 
or otherwise, he is at one with them and bound to help them as they 
help him. He lives on others, and he must in common honesty live 
for them. 

Another lesson, insisted on with equal stringency, is that, while Self- 
sacrifice and Altruism are the guiding rule of conduct, they must be 
practised without any personal attachment or hope of reward. Care 
should always be taken that there is no tinge of egoity in either thought 
or deed. Duty must be done for duty’s sake and dedicated to 
God. 1 

The practical value of Kant’s categorical imperative is thus fully 
appreciated as a rule of conduct by the Indian Advaitin — whether 
he be a householder or a recluse 2 . Never flinching from the path of 
duty, one should try to gain the calm 3 * which is unruffled by the gusts 
of fortune, and live a life of supreme joy.4 (Sukham uttamam.) 

The sentiments presupposed and involved in this conception of 
Abheda are — an absence of all egoity, an absence of all distinction 
between friend and foe, and between Mine and Thine ; an absence of 
all attachment to earthly possessions and earthly ties. No room is thus 
left for selfish passions to exercise their sway, and in their place come 
self-abnegation, self-contentment, renunciation, resignation, equa- 
nimity, truthfulness, sense of justice — a desire to injure none, love, 
compassion, forgiveness, charity, humility, and peace, which no man 
can take away. 

In the words of Shree Krishna 5 “ He who beareth no ill-will to any 
being, friendly and compassionate, without attachment and egoism, 


1 Bhag. Git. IX, 27-28: — “Whatsoever 

thou doest, whatsoever thou eatest, what- 
soever thou offerest, whatsoever thou 
givest, whatsoever thou doest of austerity, 

Oh Kaunteya, do thou that as an offering 
unto Me? Thus shalt thou be liberated 

from the bonds of action, yielding good 
and evil fruits; thyself harmonized by 

the Yoga of renunciation, thou shalt 
come unto Me, when set free.” 0/. 
Ibid, XVIII, 23:-— “An action which 
is ordained, done by one undesirous of 
fruit, devoid of attachment, without 
love or hate, that is called pure.” Cf. 


Ibid . Ill, 19, 30.— ED. 

a Cf. Shankar’s Introdn. to ‘ Ait. 
Up.* Madras Edn., p. 9. 

3 Cf. Bhag. Git. II, 48 : — “Perform 
action, Oh Dhananjaya, dwelling in 
union with the Divine, renouncing attach- 
ments, and balanced evenly in success 
and failure : equilibrium is called Yoga” 

Cf. ibid . II, 51 ; III, 7, 9, 19, 30 V, 
3-11, 19-26. 

4 Ibid. VI, 21-27. 

5 Ibid. XII, 13-20. 



CHAP. VII.] 


THE ETHICS OF THE VEDANTA. 


115 


balanced in pleasure and pain, and forgiving, ever-content, harmoni- 
ous, with the Self controlled, resolute, with mind and reason dedicated 
to Me, he, My devotee, is dear to Me. He from whom the world doth 
not shrink away, who doth not shrink away from the world, freed from 
the anxieties of joy, anger and fear, he is dear to Me. He who wants 
nothing, is pure, expert, passionless, untroubled, renouncing every 
(selfish) undertaking, he, My devotee, is dear to Me. He who neither 
loveth nor liateth, nor grieveth, nor desireth, renouncing good and 
evil, full of devotion, he is dear to Me. Alike to foe and friend, and 
also in fame and ignominy, alike in cold and heat, pleasures 
and pains, destitute of attachment, taking equally praise 
and reproach, silent, wholly content with what cometh, homeless, 
firm in mind, full of devotion, that man is dear to Me. They 
verily who partake of this life-giving wisdom, as taught herein, 
endued with faith, I their Supreme object, devotees, they are 
surpassingly dear to Me.” 

A certain amount of preparation is necessary to discipline the mind 
for a correct observance of this principle in practice. The most dis- 
quieting or disturbing element in human nature is the element of 
egoity. It is the most fruitful source of desires for self-satisfaction, 
and these desires bind man to things earthly, and give rise to 
passions when they are not satisfied. 

Hence the necessity of insisting on the practice of self-denial ; hence 
also the necessity of the teachings that nothing on earth is man’s 
except his own thoughts and deeds, which ought always to be pure, 
good and great ; that he should disentangle himself from sense objects ; 
that his happiness or misery is dependent on himself alone, that he 
gets only what he has earned, and that, accordingly, he himself is the 
maker of his destiny. 

He is taught that a life of self-restraint and self-surrender, with 
indifference to all that is “of the earth, earthly,” brings in its train, 
the virtues mentioned above, culminating in that happiness, which 
the world can neither give nor take away. 

These virtues have necessarily the effect of purifying the heart and 
making man righteous and religious. But their sphere of influence 
is not confined to this mundane existence ; they elevate man to higher 
and higher planes. In every step that he takes towards the attain- 



116 THE ETHICS OF THE VEDANTA. [CHAP. VII. 

ment of these virtues, he goes through the process of “ dying to live 
at every step he goes on living a larger and larger self. 

He learns first to identify himself with his kith and kin, next his 
friends and relations, then his caste and country, and so on. In other 
words, he gradually goes on including within his Self the‘Selfs * of others, 
realising the truth that their happiness is his happiness, and their 
misery his own misery, and having faith in the assurance that such 
expansion of the Self is sure ultimately to prove to him his own identity 
with the Divine Self. 

Such is the analysis of the sentiments involved in the conception of 
Abheda and such exactly is the ethical ideal insisted on in the Vedanta . 

One has only to read the Bhagvat Gita to see how wrong it is to 
suppose that Indian philosophers were simply soaring high in the 
regions of speculations and cared little for the practical concerns of life. 

That little Book, -whether a Revelation or not in the sense in which 
orthodox Christians consider their Bible to be — is, indeed, a sacred 
book in the fullest sense of the term and highly deserves the reverence 
which is paid to it both in Europe and America. 

This is what one reads in Sir Edwin Arnold’s Preface to his trans- 
lation of the Bhagvat Gita : — 

“ In plain but noble language, it unfolds a philosophical system 
which remains to this day the prevailing Brahminic belief, blending 
as it does the doctrines of Kapila, Patanjali and the Vedas. So lofty 
are many of its declarations, so sublime its aspirations, so pure and 
tender its piety, that Schlegel, after his study of the poem, breaks 
forth into this outburst of delight and praise 1 towards its unknown 
author : — ‘Reverence to the great [teachers] is counted by the Brah- 
mins among the most sacred duties of piety. Therefore, thou, Oh 
most holy Poet, favoured of the Deity, whatever at length thou art 
called among mortals, (thou) the author of this Lay, by the prophetic 
strains of which the mind soars to an eternal divine height, with a 
certain unerring pleasure to thee, foremost, I say, I offer my salutation 
and constant adoration to the vestiges thou hast left.” 

“ Lassen re-echoes this splendid tribute ; and, indeed, so striking 
are some of the moralities here inculcated and so close the parallelism 


1 The origina is in Latin, 



CHAP. VII.] 


THE ETHICS OF THE VEDaNTA. 


117 


— oftentimes actually verbal — between its teachings and those of the 
New Testament, that a controversy 1 has arisen between Pandits and 
Missionaries on the point whether the author borrowed from Chris- 
tian sources or the Evangelists and Apostles from him.” 

Another writer, whom we all esteem as one of the truest friends of 
India, Mrs. Annie Besant, says of this our precious treasure as 
follows : — 

“ Among the priceless teachings that may be found in the great 
Hindu poem of the Mahabharata, there is none so rare and precious 
as this, ‘The Lord’s Song’ . . . how many troubled hearts has it quieted 
and strengthened, how many weary souls has it led to [the Lord]? 
It is meant to lift the aspirant from the lower levels of renunciation 
where objects are renounced, to the loftier heights where desires are 
dead, and where the Yogi dwells in calm and ceaseless contemplation, 
while his body and mind are actively employed in discharging the 
duties that fall to his lot in life. That the spiritual man need not 
be a recluse, that union with the Divine Life may be achieved and 
maintained in the midst of worldly affairs, that the obstacles to that 
union lie not outside us but within us— such is the central lesson of 
Bhagvat Gita.” — (Preface.) 

The Gita is at once a code of ethics, holding forth the highest spiri- 
tual ideal, a code of religion, inculcating a loving devotion to God, 
and a philosophy of Aduaitci , beautifully expounding the scientific 
truth that the dualism involved in the idea of bhafoi begins to fade 
with the intensity of the devotional element, and ultimately culminates 
in Unity, where all differentiations must disappear with the develop- 
ment of the altruistic element and the complete realisation of the 
principle of Ablieda . 2 * * * * * * 9 


1 See the learned introduction by 

Mr. (afterwards Mr. Justice) Telang to 

his translation of the Gita in verse, 

where he conclusively proves that the 

Gita is anterior to the Christian era. 

Of course, this view is not acceptable 

to the generality of Christians, who 

believe what they wish to be true. 

9 Cf. Brahma Vadin, for 1898, pp. 
135*0. It is this same old-world truth, 
ever fresh, that is stated by J. Caird(‘Phil. 
Rel.' p. 116) in the following terms : — 
What we call love is, in truth, the 


finding o our own life in the life of 
another, the losing of our individual 
selves to gain a larger self. And as 
the scope of our sympathy widens till 
it embraces the more complex life of 
the family, the nation, the race, at 
each successive step wo are simply 
expanding the range of our own 
spiritual life, escaping farther and 
farther from the finitude of the indi- 
vidual Self and approximating more 
and more to a life which is unlimited 
and universal.” — EG. 



118 


THE ETHICS OF THE VEDANTA. 


[CHAP, VII. 


The whole ethics of the Gita 1 may be briefly summed up thus — 

(а) Renounce all selfish striving after earthly things, so that your 
thoughts and deeds may be free from the tinge of egoity, and 
free also from earthly desires and attachments, which 
arouse selfish passions and lead one astray. 

(б) Forbear injuring any being. 

(c) Treat all alike. 

(d) Help the needy even at a sacrifice to yourself. 

(e) Do all your duties in a disinterested spirit anl as an offering 

of love to the Supreme Being, in purity of heart. 

Even that unsympathetic translator of the Gita, Mr. Thomson, 
has, in spite of himself, to exclaim “ would that in the present selfish 
age and this northern active clime, it [‘ the sensible and religious 
doctrine ’ of the Gita] could be applied and successfully carried out 
by Christians, as we call ourselves. . . .We, too, should have our 
final emancipation, our salvation ever as our only desire, and our 
Supreme Being, — so far superior, so far more lovable than the imperfect 
deity of the Hindu philosopher 2 . . . . ever as our chief object of love. 
We, too, should do our duty in this world without self-interest and 
attachment, and morally renounce the world in the rejection of all 
interest in it.” (Introduction, p. cxxx.) 

When such a presentment of the Indian Ethical ideal was possible, 
we had reasons to expect that the attitude of Christian writers gene- 
rally would be one of admiration, first, because the Buddhistic ideal 
which is derived from that of the Indian Vedanta and which prac- 


1 For a general survey of the ethics 
of the Upanishadg, see Deussen’s “ Phil. 
Up.” pp. 364-395, from which a short 
extract may be quoted here as showing 
the high stage of moral life attained in 
those times Many an Indian Chieftain 
might make, in substance, his own the 
honourable testimony which Ashwapati 
Kaikeya bears to his subjects 

In my Kingdom there is no thief, 
No Churl, no drunkard, 

None who neglects the sacrifice 
or the Sacred Law, 

No adulterer or courtesan. 

This is in keeping with the gentle 
humane tone, which we see adopted 
in the Upanishads, in the intercourse 


of husband and wife, father and son, 
teacher and student, prince and 
subject.*’ 

2 Of course, to a narrow minded 
Christian our deity must be imperfect, 
and what not besides l We here are 
without a Divine Guide ! There is only 
one unerring Preceptor (p. 90) and with 
that only Christians have been blessed ! 
So none of the other children of God in 
the world dare claim any Divine guide 
among their own people, and Mr. Thom* 
son warns his readers that no more 
praise should be accorded to the author 
of the Gfta than is due “to a clever 
reformer and a wise ethical philosopher.” 
(Introduction, cxxx.) 



CHAP. VII.] 


THE ETHICS OF THE VEDANTA. 


119 


tically is identical with it 1 has become attractive to the Western mind; 
and, secondly, because of the “ strong parallelism — oftentimes ac- 
tually verbal,” between the teachings of the Gita and those of the 
New Testament. 

But, unfortunately, objections have been seriously made to our 
ideal, and others, too, are possible, of a character similar to what 
Christian writers are wont to take to the Stoic standard of 
morality. 

It might, for instance, be objected that this ideal is too high and 
impracticable, or that it is too cold and unemotional, there being an 
utter absence of religious fervour ; it might be said that it improperly 
advocates indifference to family ties and to matters concerning the 
practical life of man, that it discourages the virtue of patriotism, and 
leads to a life of Quietism, based upon a pessimistic view of nature 
and, as such, is of no practical value at all. 

The first of these objections has been taken to Stoicism, which is 
much akin to the Indian system in this respect. It is said that the 
ideal is one of “ unapproachable perfection,” “ unpractical 
and even impracticable,” and that if any one professed 
himself to have realised it, he would justly expose himself to 
ridicule. 

This is not a matter on which any argument could be usefully 
employed. Whether such a life as is portrayed in the Bhagvat Gita 
and other sacred writings of the Hindus is possible, can be best answered 
by another question whether such a life has, as a matter of fact, been 
lived or no ; and if the answer to this last question be in the affirmative, 
that ought to settle the other question. The Indian literature — both 
ancient and modern — teems with instances of complete self-sacrifice 
and devotion to truth and justice under the most trying circumstances. 
And I feel “ washed in better moral air ” in mentioning, with rever- 
ence, the names, for example, of Bali, Janaka, R&ma, Harischandra, 
Bharat, Bhishma and Kama, of Chaitanya, Kabir, Nanak, Guru 
Govind, Janardan, Eknatha, Ramdas and Tukaram, and referring 
generally to other saints who flourished between the 12th and 18th 
centuries of the Christian era, 

1 No doubt Buddhism is less meta- no difference in the practical ethics ot 
physical and less mystical, but this makes the two systems. 



120 


THE ETHICS OF THE VEDANTA. 


[CHAP. VII. 


Even in the present degenerate age, instances of saintly characters 
would not be found wanting, 1 1 expect, if one were to take the trouble 
of travelling in India, as Count Tolstoy did in his part of the country, 
in search of instances of Christ-life actually lived. 

“The best fruits of religious experience (says Professor James*) are 
the best things that history has to show. [To recount them], to call to 
mind a succession of such examples [of genuinely strenuous and reli- 
gious life] is to feel encouraged and washed in better moral air. The 
spirit of piety and charity, ... of love and humility, , .of severity 
for one’s self, accompanied with tenderness for others — [these] have 
the same savour in all countries under distant suns and in different 

surroundings These devotees have often laid their course so 

differently from other men, that, judging them by worldly law, we 
might be tempted to call them monstrous aberrations from the paths 
of nature.” 

Here, then, are instances of saintly characters having, as a fact, 
actually lived such a life as is portrayed in the highest ethical ideals. 

Turning now to the teachings of the Bible itself, we find Jesus telling 
his disciples, ‘ Be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven 
is perfect’ ; and Mr. Clifford Harrison^ observes, “ If the great words 
of Jesus of Nazareth are true, true on all planes, as such words of such 
a speaker must ever be, an ideal for the whole entity of man is pro- 
claimed in them, nothing short of perfection ....// man once 
realises his present state and has faith in what the Great Ones of the world 
have told him and will put it into action , the advance lies before him .” 

The undisputed fact that such lives have been lived in the past, and 
are being lived now — lives which are individual cases of the faith re- 
ceived and the will exercised into triumphant expression* — tells us 
that we need not fear to take for our ideal the highest possibilities 
that can be announced to Man, nor call them impracticable, 
because his present condition seems so far removed from them. The 
first step out of that condition is the admission that it is not final. 

\ The instance of Ramakrishna Pa- 4 Ibidm ^ Trineg < What all the 
rambansa of Bengal may be mentioned world’s a -seeking/ p. 8: the fact that 
as one that readily suggests itself m this really great, true, and happy lives have 
connection. ED. been lived in the past and are being 

a “ Varieties of Religious Experi- lived to-day gives us our starting point 
ence/’ pp. 259-261. [in the pursuit of true happiness]. — ED. 

* “ Notes on the Margins/* pp. 214-5. 



CHAP, VII.] 


THE ETHICS OF THE VEDANTA. 


121 


' We are near waking when we dream that we dream .’ 1 We have 
here the assurance of Emerson that the longing of a soul is the 
prophecy of its fulfilment. 

As to the second objection above noted, it is generally supposed 
that the idea of Divine Love is unknown to the Indian Veddnta and 
that the ideal it presents is too severely abstract to touch the heart 
and the imagination. 

“ Having convinced himself by rigorous logic of his oneness with 
Brahma , the Veddntin (says Max Muller) knows no raptures and no 
passionate love for the Deity.” 

In other words, rapturous devotion (premal bhdkti) is said to be 
an idea of modern growth. 

If the Admitin is taught that he is one with Brahma , if it is also 
said that, among the aims of self-realisation in this life, Universal 
Love is one , 2 it is obviously wrong to suppose that he has no love for 
Brahma , unless one is prepared to say of him that he does not love 
himself. In fact, unflinching devotion is laid down as one of the 
necessary means of acquiring a knowledge of Brahma , 3 and of one’s 
identity 4 with It. 

But says Professor Upton : — 

“ Both in Brahminism and Buddhism, man’s ethical ideal is 
not regarded as a real revelation of the essence and character 
of the Eternal Self ; for, in their view, the end of Ethics 
is not to realise in increasing fulness a sense of ])ersonal rela- 
tionship to the Divine Self or the Father within us, but 
either to so fuse the human self with the Eternal Brahma as 
to virtually destroy all distinct sense of individual personality, 
or else, as in the case of Buddhism, to achieve that total 
extinguishing of the desire to live which appears to be equivalent to 
personal annihilation. The tendency of these systems of Hindu 
thought is to weaken and efface all personal passions and affections 
and so to destroy that distinct consciousness of individuality which, 

1 * Notes on the Margins/ p. 210. other objects.’* 

2 See “ Jivan-Mukti-viveka.” 4 Ibid . XIII, 11-34 cf. Sw&mi 

8 Bhag. Git. XIII, II : — “ Unflinch- Vivekananda’s “ Raja Yoga ” pp. 54-55. 

ing devotion to Me, by Yoga, without 



THE ETHICS OF THE VEDaNTA. 


122 


[chap. vn. 


in their view, was not a privilege but rather an undesirable condition 
from which they sought redemption .” 1 

I have quoted this page in extenso , for it fairly represents the views 
generally entertained by Christian writers on Indian Veddnta and Indian 
Theology. 

The whole of this passage, however, is misleading, and the error con- 
sists in the confusion of the two standpoints, which the Veddnta , again 
and again, insists on being always borne in mind — I mean the moral 
and spiritual — the standpoint of the individual who is moving in this 
world of relativity and the other, the standpoint of the Absolute, 
where all relations lose their significance in the One Eternal Life. 

To those who cannot transcend the former, the relation of a devotee 
to his God is the highest fact in their religious experience, and this 
is no doubt the experience of the large majority. In their case there 
is no effacement, at all, of either the individual ego, or of the passions 
and affections of the devotee. 

But as to the philosopher in search of the highest verity, his philoso- 
phic sense tells him that the highest ethical ideal is but a means for 

1 Hibbert Lectures, 1893, pp. 241-2. 

It is surprising that such an errone- 
ous conception still continues to 
dominate the mind of Western writers, 
when the Bhag. Gita alone, not to 
speak of loss accessible writings, fur- 
nishes enough proof to the contrary. 

A few passages may as well be referred 
to here, by way of illustration. 

Bhag. Git. Ill, 25: — which enjoins 
that the wise man should act, as much 
as the ignorant, but without attachment, 
for the welfare of the world. 

V, 25 : — Even a Rishi, whose sin is 
destroyed, whose duality removed, whose 
self is controlled, should be intent on the 
welfare of all beings , if he seeks to obtain 
the Peace of the Eternal. 

XI, 55 : — He who doeth actions for Mo 
without hatred of any being , 

. • freed from attachment, he cometh 

unto Me. 

XII, 4: — He that is devoted to the 
welfare of aU, comes unto Me. 

XII, 15: — He, from whom the world 
doth not shrink away, and who doth not 
shrink away from the world .... is 
dea r to Me. 

XVniI, 45 : — Man reacheth perfection 


by each being intent on his own duly. 

Ill, 19 : — Therefore, without attach- 
ment, constantly perform action which is 
duty , for, by performing action without 
attachment, man verily reacheth the 
Supreme. 

Ill, 20 : — Janaka and others indeed 
attained to perfection by action : then 
having an eye to the welfare of the world 
also, thou shouldst perform action . 

Ill, 4 Man winneth not freedom from 
action by abstaining from activity , nor 
by renunciation doth he rise to perfection. 

Ill, 5 : — Nor can any one, even for an 
instant , remain really actionless. 

Ill, 8 : — Perform then right action , for 
action is superior to inaction , and, in- 
active, even the maintenance of thy 
body would not be possible. 

Ill, 9: — The world is bound by 
action, .... for that sake [t.e. 
for sacrifice] free from attachment . . 

perform thou action. 

II, 37*38, which indicates the burden 
of the Gita, in the words “ Stand up . . . 
resolute, to fight, taking, as equal, 
pleasure and pain, gain ana loss, victory 
and defeat, gird thee for the battle.’ * Cf. 
also XII, 18; XIII, 8 and 9. 



CHAP. VII.] 


THE ETHICS OF THE VEDANTA. 


123 


the attainment of something still higher. Where man has begun to 
realise, in increasing fulness, a sense of personal relationship to the 
Divine Self, where is this to culminate, if such culmination be ever 
possible, if not in a complete self-surrender of his own personality ? 

Is this “fusion of the human self with the Divine Self” to be 
condemned as virtually destroying all distinct sense of individual 
personality ? If Love means the feeling and consciousness of identity, 
u I in thee and thou in me,” if love is implied in our desire to realise 
unity, is not that love the greatest and truest, when the lover entire- 
ly forgets himself to become the beloved 1 ? 

In other words, is not the progressive self- surrender to the imma- 
nent and self-revealing Divine Being pre-supposed as an accomplished 
fact in one who has reached the highest ethical ideal ; and what value 
would such an one, at that stage, attach to his individual personality ? 
Are his passions and affections weakened and effaced or purified and 
ennobled ? Why did Jesus teach man to deny himself, to hate 
his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters , 
yea, his own life also ? W'hat is the meaning of the Christian saying 
“ He that loses life shall have it ” ? Are not the same sentiments 
re-echoed by Christian divines? “ The Self, the I, the me, and the 
like, all belong to the Evil Spirit .... Be simply and wholly 
bereft of Self. 2 ” 

The Bishop of Ripon, in the Hibberl Journal , for April 1905, writes : — 

“ Christ is born, and the Christ-spirit must be formed in men ; Christ 
dies, and so the self in man must be crucified , for how can love live along- 
side the life of Self ? Christ rises, and the true Self is only found when 
the old self has been crucified . 3 Is there no virtual destruction of all 
distinct sense of individual personality in any of the above utterances? 

1 This sentiment is beautifully ex- 2 Theol. Germ., p. 73. 

pressed by Chaitanya, the Bengali Saint, a The italics in the above passage 

as follows : — are the author’s. It is gratifying to find 

“ Four eyes met. There were changes that Christian theologians are willing 
in two Souls. now to interpret the Christian dogma by 

And now I cannot remember whe- sentiments like those which the Vedanta 
ther he is a man has always entertained. The Supreme 

And I a woman, or he a woman and self-surrender, the Neo-platonio idea of 
I a man. the Logos, God’s descent unto him and 

All I know is, there were two, love love for him, the Crucifixion of Jesus, 
came, and there is one.” that is, of the lower egohood in man. 

Quoted in Brahmav&din for 1906, his Resurrection or the rise of the Christ, 
p. 358. that is, of the true Self in him, and his 



124 


THE ETHICS OF THE VEDANTA. 


[CHAP. VII, 


It may at once be conceded , 1 however, that 'passionate love there 
may not be at a stage which pre -supposes the possession of true know- 
ledge (Gnosis, stth) but love it certainly is, — only ennobled by *th, by 
which is understood spiritual enlightenment. It is spiritual, but it 
is none the less love, nor is it less intense, because there is no display 
of emotion in it. “ Love must be guided and taught of knowledge 
. . . This love so maketh a man one with God that he can never 

more be separated from Him .” 2 It is Love in its purity and fulness. 

Devotional or what is called emotional Love is considered by the 
Vedanta as a means of acquiring spiritual knowledge . 3 And there 
cannot be the slightest doubt that devotion, practised in the attitude 
and under the conditions prescribed in that behalf, must bring in 
spiritual enlightenment and ultimately, of a surety, lead to salvation . 4 


ascension or union with Godhead — all 
these become intelligible when thus 
interpreted. It is interesting to note, in 
this connexion, what Dr.Charles Cuthbert 
Hall, a missionary preacher who came out 
to India on a lecturing tour, said in his 
lecture on Mysticism. After paying 
a compliment to the profundity of Indian 
thought, and referring to a Sinhalese 
student at Oxford who had told him that 
he could understand the Bible because it 
was a truly oriental book, containing the 
thought and life of the East, the learned 
Doctor proceeded to observe, “ I was 
much struck with this remark of my 
friend, especially because since visiting 
the East four years ago, and coming, in 
sweet affection, near to the mode of 
thinking and feeling that governs Eastern 
minds and hearts, I have read my Bible 
witji new intelligence and fresh delight.” 
See ‘Advocate of India’, 8th January 
1907. 

1 In this connexion, it is interesting 
to read the views of Rabindranath Tagore, 
in his “S&dhana,” pp. 16-18, where that 
eminent poet and philosopher says: 
44 Some modem philosophers of Europe, 
who are directly or indirectly indebted 
to the Upanishads, far from realizing 
their debt, maintain that the Brahma of 
India is a mere abstraction, a negation of 
all that is in the world. In a word, that 
the Infinite Being is to be found nowhere 
except in metaphysics. It may be that 
suoh a doctrine has been and still is 
prevalent with a section of our country- 
men. But this is certainly not in accord 
with the pervading spirit of the Indian 


mind. Instead, it is the practice of 
realizing and affirming the presence of 
the Infinito, in all things, which has been 
its constant inspiration. Wo are en- 
joined to seo whatever there is in the worl.i 
as being enveloped by God . 

I bow to God over and over again who is 
in fire and in water , who permeates the 
whole world , who is in the animat 
crops as well as in the perennial trees. 

Can this bo God abstracted from the 
world ? Instead, it signifies not merely 
seeing Him in all things, but saluting 
Him in all the objects of the world. 
The attitude of the God -conscious man 
of the Upanishads towards the universe 
is one of a deep feeling of adoration. 
His object of worship is present every- 
where. It is the one living truth that 
makes all realities true. This truth is 
not only of knowledge but of devotion. 
“ Namo namah ,” wo bow to Him every- 
where, and over and over again. It is 
recognised in the outburst of the Rishi, 
who addresses the whole world in a sudden 
ecstacy of joy : Listen to me, Ye sons of 
the immortal Spirit, Ye who live in the 
heavenly abode , I have known the Supreme 
Person , whose light shines forth from 
beyond the darkness. Do we not find 
the overwhelming delight of a direct 
and positive experience, where there is 
not the least trace of vaguenosa or pas- 
sivity ? ” — ED. 

3 ‘ Theol. Germ.,’ p. 159. 

* Shankar’s Gloss on Bhag. Git, XIII, 

10 . 

See e.g. Bhag Git., Ch. XII. 



CHAP. VII.] 


THE ETHICS OP THE VEDANTA. 


126 


Nor is our belief in such salvation a vain one. “ The Gita (says 
Barnett) has a gospel to deliver, telling of a consecration of life’s every 
work to the selfless service of God, and an Infinite Love that, at every 
place and every time, pours forth its illimitable grace to all that seek 
after it.” 

The next objection noticed above has reference to the indifference 
which the Vedanta advocates to things earthly, to earthly attach- 
ments, etc. 

It is said that a philosophy or theology which insists on the 
abandonment of all earthly concerns, on the killing of all passions 
and desires, for the purpose of obtaining union with God, simply 
means an attempt to go empty-handed into an empty house, to be 
there left as it were alone with God without any world to mediate 
between the two, with the result that in the ecstatic vision of the 
Absolute the light of reason is extinguished. This is what Dr. Edward 
Caird has said of the Stoic system. 

We in India also consider it a true and a noble lesson that nothing 
on earth is ours except our own thoughts and deeds, which we carry 
with us ; that all things pertaining to our empiric consciousness are 
transient and ephemeral — wealth, fame, honors, even our domestic 
affections and bonds of friendship — that all these have, no doubt, their 
limited aims and ends, and serve as steps in our progressive develop- 
ment and enlightenment ; but for higher and spiritual ends they 
have to be left behind. 

No doubt, too, we insist on the practice of self-denial. 

The question however is whether, in doing so, we strip ourselVes 
of all that we had, and try to reach an abstract emptiness, deluding 
ourselves into the belief that we have attained the goal, or that we 
are possibly on the way to it, when in reality we are only in a state 
of spiritual nudity and physical nothingness. 

If spiritual enlightenment pre-supposes the transcendence of the 
ethical standpoint as an accomplished fact, if man at this stage has 
already transcended the world of sense-experience, if, at this stage, 
as Fichte says, all wrappings disappear and the world passes away 
for him with her dead principle , 1 or if, as Shankar says, the world ap- 


i 


See supra Chap. 4, and c/. Ved. Sutr. Ill, 2, 21 S. B. E. Vol. 38, p. 163. 



126 


THE ETHICS OF THE VEDANTA. 


[CHAP. VII. 


pears as melting away like the imagery of a dream, of what value is 
the mediation of such a world at that highest stage ? Of what value 
is a toy-elephant to one who understands that it is only a toy ? Of 
what value is a diagram (and that too an inaccurate one) to one who 
is face to face with the original Reality ? 

Again, what is the meaning of the remark that “ the light of reason 
is extinguished ? ” The question here raised can only be answered 
with the help of what Principal John Caird terms 4 the hidden logic 
of a spiritual process/ If what the learned Master of Balliol calls 
reason is extinguished, he may be assured that something better and 
nobler is acquired in this process of transformation. But why assume 
the extinction of reason, when it is admitted that nothing is annihi- 
lated in the process of development, but all is assimilation and 
transformation ? Why not say that the potential universality 
of reason becomes a realised and accentuated fact in such a 
case ? 

Similarly, as to Passions and Desires, when the Vedanta advocates 
Self-denial as a virtue, it does not ask us to destroy the senses or the 
sense-objects, but to keep the senses under proper control, while moving 
among sense-objects. 1 Nor are we asked to demolish all the desires, 
as is popularly believed ; for this is impossible in the very nature of 
things. To demolish all desires would mean the cessation of all activity, 
which is absolutely impossible. 2 

No doubt, the senses are described as very powerful, trying impe- 
tuously to carry away the heart of even a prudent man who strives 
to restrain them.3 No doubt, also, that desires and passions are said 
to be the greatest enemies of man.* 

But all these are a part of our nature, though only a perverted 
part, and cannot be eradicated or plucked out as thorns in one’s body. 
They are not at peace with man, it is true, yet they cannot part com- 


1 Bhag. Git. II, 64: — “But the disci- 
plined Self, moving among sense-objects, 
with senses free from attraction and re- 
pulsion, mastered by the Sell, goeth to 
peace.** 

■ Ibid. HU 4-7 : — “ Man winneth 
not freedom from action by abstaining 
from activity, nor by mere renunciation 
doth he rise to perfection. Nor can any 
one, even for an instant, remain really 


actionless ; for helplessly is every one 
driven to action by the qualities bom of 
nature,” etc., etc. 

9 Ibid. 11,60. 

4 Bhag. Git. in, 37-39:— “It is 
desire, it is wrath, begotten by the 
quality of motion ; all — consuming, all- 
polluting, know now this as our foe here 
on earth/* etc. etc. 



CHAP. VII.] 


THE ETHICS OF THE VEDANTA. 


127 


pany and virtue consists in man ’s victory over them, not by killing, 
but by converting these enemies into friends. 

In other words, what is meant is, that what constitutes the lower 
nature of man should be made to do higher and nobler work. As 
was well said by a celebrated poet, let the object of Kama (desire) 
be devotion to God, let Krodha (anger) be employed to control the 
senses, etc., and when so employed, they are purified and idealised 
by being made the natural basis of a higher spiritual satisfaction ; 
they are brought in harmony with the self and assimilated with it. 
This is exactly the idea which the Bhagvat Gita means to convey. 

“ Let him raise the self by the Self, and not let the self become 
depressed ; for verily is the Self the friend of the self, and also the 
Self the self’s enemy. The Self is the friend of the self of him in 
whom the self by the Self is vanquished; but to the unsubdued self, 
the Self verily become th hostile as an enemy.” 1 

Even the utterances of Shankar, the greatest Advaitin , may well be 
referred to as showing what, according to him also, is meant by the 
“ raising of the self by the Self.” 

It is the manas which creates objects of desire, and gives rise 
to egoity and attachment to things earthly, and these make man a 
ceaseless wanderer in this phenomenal world, Sansara . The pursuit of 
external objects being checked, evil desires are subjugated, tranquillity 
of the mind thus results, and thence arises the vision of the Paramdt - 
man . Purify, therefore, the mind and strengthen it for its fitness for 
mukti , liberation. This is attainable by the performance of one’s 
duties and this world would then be, to such an one, as naught. 2 

But why should the indifference advocated in the Indian systems 
to earthly attachments meet with no sympathetic response from 
modem Western thought ? Is it in any degree worse than the 
indifference advocated in the sacred writings of Christianity and by 
Christian saints in the name of Jesus ? 

“ If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself . . . and follow 
Me ” (Matt. XYI. 24). “If he hate not his father and mother and 
wife and children, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” 
(Luke, XIV. 26.) 

1 Bhag. Git. VI, 5-6. Viveka Chtidamani. 



128 


THE ETHICS OF THE VEDANTA. 


[CHAP. VII. 


“ So long as a man clingeth unto the elements and fragments of 
this world, (and, above all, to himself) and holdeth converse with 
them, andmaketh great account of them, he is deceived and blinded.” 1 * 

“ A man must begin by denying himself and willingly forsaking all 
things for God’s sake .... He who will have the one, must let the other 

9 > a 

go. 

“Eschew bodily pleasures and rest in Me alone. . . Desire to 

despise thyself, break thy appetites, and crush out all thy pleasures 
and desires.” (Suso) “ Disengage thyself so completely from all crea- 
tures in all things which might hinder thine eternal salvation . . . 
There is no other way, however hard this may appear . . We must 
divest ourselves of external occupations and establish ourselves in a 
tranquil stillness of soul by an energetic resignation, as if we were 
dead to self and thought only of the honor of Christ and his heavenly 
Father.” 3 

It is difficult for Christian WTiters to escape the criticism which 
they are pleased so freely to pass on others. Mr. Thomson, who has 
translated the Bhagvat Gita, feels that some of the passages above 
quoted come “from the mouth of the only unerring preceptor,” 
meaning Jesus Christ, and he explains in his note to B. G. XIII.-9., 
where similar sentiments (but couched in much milder language), 
occur, that such passages should not be construed literally ; “ they 
only mean that where one’s salvation requires it, even the nearest 
earthly ties must be disregarded.” 4 

This explanation is only superficial. The meaning of such 
teachings involving indifference to family ties, to earthly at- 
tachments and objects, lies much deeper. When a person has learnt 
the lesson of “ dying to live,” his self in the process goes on becoming 
larger and larger and in the end it includes within itself the seifs of all 
other beings. The individual identifies himself with all. With him 
Humanity is a big brotherhood, Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam , so that the 
particular relationships of father, mother, &c., fall in the shade ; there 
is here exclusion of the relations as such , no doubt, but there is their 
inclusion in the larger whole. He dies to them as he dies to 
himself, to live a larger self. He thus rises above all considerations 

1 ‘Theol. Germ*’ p. 60. * Ibid. 

* Ibid. pp. 4&r 46. v , 4 Thomson’s Bhag. Git. p. 90. 



CHAP. VII.] 


THE ETHICS OF THE VEDaNTA. 


129 


connected with the mere personality of those around him, and so is 
free from all the injustice and partiality which ordinary love so often 
brings in its train. 

This is what the Vedanta means when it desires the extinction of 
the Ahamvritti (egoity); what is aimed at is not the destruction but 
the elevation or transformation of the individual Self which brings 
with it the spiritual capacity of looking upon all alike 1 , Samadrishti . 
It means the expansion 2 of the Self to become the Self of all. There 
is no “ emptiness ” in such a conception, where the Self is conceived 
as becoming, in the course of its development, so far expanded as 
to embrace within it the ‘ seifs’ of all beings. The language of one 
who has reached this stage, says Vasishtha, is : — 

“ Self fills the whole universe . . . within, without, below, above, 
everywhere all is Self, here and there ; there is no Not-Self anywhere 
. . . There is nothing which is not in me. What should I desire, 
when the whole vrorld is one web of Universal Consciousness .” 3 

“ He who knows (says Shankar 4 ) the Oneness of the Self has no 
desires, because for him there is no object to be desired ; as his Atman 
is himself, he cannot desire it. The being centred in Self is emanci- 
pation. This proceeds from [spiritual] knowledge alone . . No doubt 
the variety of Karma prescribed in the Shastras are useful as aids to 
knowledge.” 

It is interesting to read the following description of the Indian 
Sage given in the Mahubharata : 

“ He who behaves towards all creatures as if he is their kinsman, 
who has acquired the knowledge of the Supreme Spirit, who is free 
from all passions and is absorbed in the knowledge of the Self, he who 
is compassionate, whom all creatures have ceased to fear, who abstains 
from injuring others in thought, speech or deed, he who is free from 


1 Bhag. Git. Ii, 54-71. 

a I have advisedly adopted the above 
mode of expression to make my meaning 
intelligible to those who are not Advaitins. 
From the Advaita point of view, it is not 
the Self that is expanded, for the Self is 
etornal and changeless ; the expansion 

here referred to means the gradual 
removal of the veil of Nescience. 

• Jivan Mukti Viveka, Anand&sh- 


ram Series, 1901 Edn. p 85: — 

for q*n 11 

f ft fT^rsT ss?*n spig. n 

* ^ ^ I 

4 Taitt. Up. I, 12, 1. Anond. Series, 
No. 12, pp. 33-35. 


9 



130 


THE ETHICS OF THE VEDaNTA. 


[chap. VII. 


the bondage of desire, he into whose mind all sorts of desires enter 
like diverse streams falling into the ocean without being able to 
transcend its limits by their discharge — it is such an one who gains 
Peace — not he who cherishes desires for earthly objects. ,, 

And those who have studied the psychic constitution of man tell 
us that the powers of such a personage become so far developed that, 
while they are far-reaching, they are also so tender and sensitive, that 
they are capable of responding to every thrill in the outside universe. 
The person, who has reached this degree of enlightenment, feels and 
answers to everything, and just because he desires nothing for himself 
is able to give everything to all. Such an one, it is said, becomes more 
and more a channel of Divine Life to the world ; he asks nothing save 
to be a channel, with wider and wider bed, along which the great 
Life may flow, and his only wish is that he may become a larger and 
larger vessel with less of obstacle in himself to hinder the outward 
pouring of the Life, working for nothing save to be of service . 1 

So, too, says Shankar in Viveka Chudamani : — 

“ The great and peaceful ones live regenerating the world like the 
coming of spring ; and after having crossed the ocean of embodied 
existence, help those who try to do the same tiling, without personal 
motives. It is the innate character of the great ones to remove the 
sufferings of others, as it is the character of the moon to allay the 
pains of those who are suffering from the intense heat of the 
sun.” 

Every great man is a living power, an impressive personality, even 
while living in one country or clime, he is in a sense, everywhere, 
'TRTlH'rfa :) (Shankar), and his influence on mankind 
continues even when he is physically dead. 

“ Such men (says Dr. E. Caird 2 ) seem still to grow beyond the end 
which hides them from our eyes . . . The great man in his lifetime 
stands before his contemporaries as an external image of excellence 
which may, indeed, awaken a new spirit in those who are able, even 
partially, to appreciate it ; but when the outward presence is removed, 
the awakened spirit reproduces the inmost reality of fact in an idea- 
lised vision, which is truer than anything seen with the eyes of sense 

1 Annie Besant’s ‘ Karma*, p. 09. also Tiele and D’Alviell*. 

* “ Evol. Eel** VoL 2, p. 227. See 



CHAP, vn.] 


THE ETHICS OP THE VEDaNTA. 


131 


. . . and this new idealised image in turn re-acts in further develop- 
ments of the same spiritual energy which produced it.” 

And why is it that such men command such an influence over people 
among whom their lot is cast 1 What is it that makes them the pio- 
neers of religious movements ? It is the life they live ; it is the spiri- 
tual light which shines forth through their life, which directly touches 
the vision and pierces the heart of every man who comes within its 
all embracing 1 radiance. Their very presence changes sorrow into 
joy, fear into courage, despair into hope, weakness into power. 2 

Inspired with the Divine Spirit, full of the Infinite Atman and Atman 
alone, endowed with a vision which pierces through things visible to 
things invisible, realising the Infinite everywhere in this finite exist- 
ence, these men live the life of the Infinite, and what they think, will 
and act is what the Infinite thinks, wills and acts through them. 3 
They embrace within their fold the universe and all that is contained 
within it. It is this life which makes their impressive personality 
a living one ; it is these who have really conquered death. 

It is these who, though they may appear to be doing little, in reality 
do much — much that is good and noble and of everlasting interest. In 
India the Upanishads, Aranyakas, and many other writings are a 
living monument of the work done by such choice specimens of 
humanity. 4 

Such is the ideal of the Indian Sage, and the Asceticism of the 
Indian Vedanta is no other than what the sage’s life represents. 

But, unfortunately, as said of the Greek Cynics, many sturdy 
beggars and ill-conditioned vagrants take up, as a convenient 
disguise, the ascetic’s staff and mantle and bring into disrepute the 
entire scheme of Hindu society and with it the wisdom that has 
planned that scheme. 

1 Cf. Swami VivekAnanda’s ‘ Raja and cf. VivekAnanda’s note 

Yoga’, p. 41. on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutraa, II, 19, at 

« See Jivan Mukti Viveka. Cf. pp. 166-7 o£ his “Raja Yoga.” 

Patanjali Yoga Sutras, II, 35 : — * Cf, Tiele. 

“in his vicinity all living beings give t £/. DeussenV'Phil. Up.”. pp. 17-22. 

up their everlasting hostilities 



CHAPTER VIII. 


INDIAN ASCETICISM . 1 

In the previous chapter on 44 The Ethics of the Veddnta ” I gave 
some idea of an Indian Sage, and stated that Indian asceticism meant 
nothing more than what the Sage’s life represented. 

There is undoubtedly a good deal of misconception about Indian 
asceticism, and this misconception is due partly to the degenerated 
form in which it is at present observable in practice and partly to the 
garbled accounts of unsympathetic and prejudiced writers, who offer 
themselves as authorities on this question. 

These writers invariably associate with asceticism the ideas of 
mortification of the flesh and retirement into solitude with no really 
noble end in view. The Indian ascetic is always represented as a 
person who renounces the world as a pessimist and seeks refuge in a 
jungle from the vicissitudes of life, as a discontented soul, and ekes 
out his existence there, doing nothing really useful. He is some- 
times described as “ a bundle of negations.” 

This is not the correct view of Indian asceticism. The Hindu sys- 
tem, in its pristine purity, did not enjoin either mortification of the 
flesh or bare retirement into solitude, any more than Christianity 
in its pristine form did. 

The Indian ascetic is called a tapasvin , sanydsin or yogin , none^ of 
which words connotes the notions so freely accredited to Indian 
asceticism by foreign writers. 

The term tapas (which is generally translated as mortification of the 
flesh) is to be found in the Rig-Veda ; it literally means 4 glow, 
burning/ and was suggestive of spiritual enlightenment about to 
culminate in self-realisation. If I might borrow an expression, it 
signified 44 the putting on of the vesture of glory ” preparatory to 

1 Originally contributed to the ‘ Indian Review’ for 1906, pp. 258-264. 



CHAP. VIII.] 


INDIAN ASCETICISM. 


133 


“ union with Brahma ” — somewhat like the Christian conceptions 
of Crucifixion and Ascension in Esoteric Christianity. It signified 
the Crucifixion, so to speak, of the lower self and re-appearance in the 
higher self. 

The word tapas , no doubt, presupposed self-denial or proper control 
over mind and body, but the idea associated with it of mortification 
by “ the burning heat and bodily austerity ” is highly suggestive 
of degenerate asceticism. 

The cruel practice of mortification of the flesh was a species of fana- 
ticism, which was always denounced as most reprehensible. Says the 
Bhagvat Gita 1 : — 

“ The men wlio perform severe austerities unenjoined by the Scrip- 
tures, wedded to vanity and egoism, impelled by the force of their 
desires and passions, unintelligent, tormenting the aggregated ele- 
ments forming the body, and Me also seated in the inner body, know 
these demoniacal in their resolves/’ 

For a correct idea of tapas , one might refer to the Bhagvat Gita, 2 
which says as follows : — 

“ Worship given to the Shining Ones, to the twiceborn, to the 
Teachers, and to the wise, purity, straightforwardness, continence 
and harmlessness, are called the austerity (tapas) of the body. 
Speech causing no annoyance, truthful, pleasant and beneficial, 
the practice of the study of the Scriptures, are called the 
austerity (tapas) of Speech. Mental happiness, equilibrium, silence, 
self control, purity of nature — this is called the austerity (tapas) of 
the mind.” 

This shows that even in the times of the Bhagvat Gita, tapas 
conveyed the notions of saintly life, purity, chastity, harmlessness, 
and generally all acts amounting to conduct, gentle, good and virtu- 
ous, in thought, word and deed. Buddha himself approved of this 
species of asceticism, while he condemned in no measured terms 
what the Gita also had condemned before him. 

It is not mortification of the flesh (says Bhishma to Yudhishtir) 
that constitutes a true penance. It is truthfulness of speech, bene- 


1 XVII, 5-6. 


» XVII, 14-16. 



INDIAN ASCETICISM. 


134 


[CHAP. VIII. 


volence, compassion, and abstention from injury to others, which 
are regarded by the wise as true penances. 1 

Then as to sannydsa we find that divided into two classes, 
viz., the vidwat sannydsa (the renunciation of the Wise) and 
the vividishd sannydsa (fiiSi^r the renunciation enjoined 

on householders and others, who are not yet prepared absolutely 
to renounce all earthly considerations and their social and domestic 
ties. 

But into neither of these two divisions does the idea of mortification 
of the flesh enter. The Jivan-Mukti-Viveka — a work, written, accord- 
ing to Professor Dvivedi, in the fourteenth century, — says not a 
word about mortification of the flesh as one of the duties of a san - 
nydsin — high or low. 

Nor is it mentioned in any of the recognised works on Yoga. The 
whole practice of Yoga breathes a spirit of moderation in exercise, 
such as may, instead of causing bodily pain and distraction of attention, 
be helpful to concentration of the mind and a proper meditation on 
the Atman . A Yogin, says Shree Krishna, must always avoid the two 
extremes of excess and abstinence. 

“ Verily Yoga is not for him who eateth too much, nor who abstain- 
ed to excess, nor who is too much addicted to sleep, nor even to 
wakefulness, Oh Arjuna, Yoga killeth out all pain for him who is regu- 
lated in eating and amusement, regulated in performing actions, re- 
gulated in sleeping and waking.” 2 * 

The truth is that all the rigorous practices involving mortification 
of the flesh, etc., belong to what is called hatha yoga — resorted to by 
the uncultured, in the belief that it leads to the acquisition of extra- 
ordinary powers, called siddhis . But this practice has been always 
severely condemned by all right-minded thinkers.3 The author of the 
Jivan-Mukti-Viveka says that the ascetic who thus occupies himself 
“ swerves away from the real aim of existence. 4 ” He is a false Para - 
mahansa and, instead of being a knower of Brahma, becomes, as it 


1 MahAbh&rat. 

9 Bhag. Git. VI, 16-17. 

9 See, in this connexion, * Shatapatha 

Br&hmana,’ ‘ Hatha Pradlpikd,’ and 


4 Markandeya Purina, ’ quoted by Prof. 
Dvivedi in the note to Ch* VI of hie 
translation of the Bhag, Git 





CHAP, vtn.] 


INDIAN ASCETICISM* 


135 


were, “ a killer 1 of Brahma and lie is beyond the pale of all religion 
and intercourse. 2 

On the otheT hand, a Vidwat sannydsin is described as “ becoming 
delightfully satisfied in the fulfilment of all duties, self-realisation 
of the truth, 4 1 am Brahma, ’ the eternal source of all transcendental 
bliss.”3 


It is only Raja Yoga that is countenanced and recommended, and 
here what is said about the life of the yogin is that it is one of self- 
sacrifice, that is, of a sacrifice of the heart by self- surrender and 
self-abnegation, for the good of others. Shree Krishna repeatedly 
lays it down in the Bhagwat Gita that a life of inaction, in retirement 
or otherwise, should never be the ideal of a genuine Yogin or 
Sannydsin . For instance in VI. 1 , he says, “ he that performeth suck 
action as is duty , independently of the fruit of action, he is an 

ascetic ( Sannydsin ), he is a Yogin, not he who has given up the 

fire-sacrifice and kindred rites.” While defining the term Yoga itself, 
so as to guard against perhaps a common popular misconception 
even then prevailing, Shree Krishna says, in the clearest terms 
possible, that Yoga is ‘ to excel in action 4 ’ remaining 4 in perfect 
equilibrium/ 5 

As to retirement into solitude, it may be stated that the scheme 
of life as conceived by the Hindu Scriptures, no doubt, ordains the 
same, but it must be remembered that such a step is recommended 
only at the stage when the social and domestic duties of life in the 
midst of one’s fellowmen have been fully discharged ; and one is 
ushered on the stage when the higher problems of life and existence 
demand one’s attention and crave for a solution. When such a 
stage has been reached, it is enjoined that one has, as a first step, to 
seek congenial surroundings in the solitude of a forest or mountain, 
the cathedrals and the retreats of nature as they have aptly been 
described, and there, free from the distractions of domestic and social 
worry, and even of personal pleasure and pain, devote oneself to 
the study of philosophy, that further research into the same may be 


1 'wm' 

Wcf’ 


4 Bhag. Git. II, 50 

4 Ibid. II. 48 

4 *Tl*T 3^ 1 



136 


INDIAN ASCETICISM. 


[chap. vm. 


carried on, for the glory of God and the enlightenment of humanity. 
It was to be a life of a vigorous pursuit of truth, not a life of inaction, 
not even a dolce far niente. 

What valuable work the ancient sages were able to accomplish in 
such an atmosphere of serene thought, what colossal heights of bold 
metaphysical speculation they could scale, has been amply evi- 
denced by the Upanishad and Aranyaka (forest-composed) literature 
of ancient India. Verily a life devoted to the discovery of the sub- 
lime truths which have conveyed and do still convey solace to 
disconsolate and erring humanity, can never be described as a life 
of useless inaction. 

At the same time, it must be borne in mind that if any one ventured 
on this step of retirement before having fulfilled the duties attached 
to his station in life, and before having passed through a proper course 
of moral discipline and become fit for spiritual enlightenment, he was 
liable, as a rule, to be condemned as a hypocrite, just as a false 
tathdgata would be, in the Buddhistic system ; for no man could 
become a sannyfein or yogin merely by abandoning his duties 
and retiring into solitude. In every true sonny 6m, the first essential 
is the performance of one’s duties in a spirit of devotion and 
complete selflessness 1 . 

It must, no doubt, be admitted that passages do frequently occur 
in Hindu sacred writings to the effect that the highest stage of spiri- 
tual enlightenment is that of a paramahamsa , and, in the case of such 
a person, it is often said that “ for him all karma (action) has 
oeased. ,> 

And because such a high ideal is placed before man, some writers 
think that the teachings of the Veddnta might fail to call out and 
strengthen the many qualities required for the practical side of life, 
and that it might raise the human mind to a height from which the 
most essential virtues of social and political life might dwindle away 
into mere phantoms. 

Yes. there might be this danger, if one ignored the distinction between 
the two paths, which the Vedanta considers as most essential 
to be borne in mind, as a key to a correct reading of its teachings — the 


1 Bhag. Git. XVIII, 7, 0-11. 



OHAP. vra.] 


INDIAN ASCETICISM. 


137 


two paths, viz., of pravritti and nivritti — the one as a preparation for 
the other. 

If one fully realises to oneself the fact that one who wants to go to 
the top of a hill must climb and not fly to reach it, there will be no 
danger of the social and political virtues dwindling away into mere 
phantoms. All these virtues have to be exercised and exercised as 
a consecration of life’s work to the selfless service of God and man, 
before the highest point could be reached, at which eternal Bliss and 
Peace reign supreme, and from which there is no longer any return 
to earthly life, for personal development and perfection. Of such a 
life, Shree Krishna 1 says : — 

‘‘ Without pride and delusion, victorious over the vice of attachment, 
dwelling constantly in the Self, desire pacified, liberated from the 
pairs of opposites known as pleasure and pain, they tread, undeluded, 
that industructible path. Nor doth the sun lighten there, nor moon, 
nor fire ; having gone thither they return not ; that is My supreme 
abode ” 

If this condition is deemed unattainable and if, therefore, the posi- 
tion itself condemned by Christian writers as meaning a useless life of 
Quietism, the teachings of Jesus, too, would be open to the same 
reproach. 

The Kingdom of God, set forth by Jesus, is (says Prof. Pfleiderer) 
in sharpest contrast to the kingdoms of this world and their glory ; 
which must be renounced by whoever would win the Kingdom of 
Heaven, — the renunciation here referred to being of all earthly ties 
and earthly possessions (Matt, xix 29 ; Luke, xiv. 26). 

And Jesus adds, as to one who wins the Kingdom of God : — 

“ I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall 
go out no more. 2 ” (Rev. III. 12.) 

The truth is that when it is said that “ {Karma) action for the spi- 
ritually perfect has ceased,” it does not mean that he, from that time, 
becomes a cypher or a block of stone. It means that action in his 
case for his own individual enlightenment has ceased ; having reached 
the highest condition, he has nothing to desire for himself , nothing to 

1 Bh&g. Git. XV, 4 and 6. 

« The italics in the passage are the author’s. 



138 


INDIAN ASCETICISM. 


[chap. vin. 


do for himself ; but for that very reason, as stated before, there is much 
which he has to do, and that is, in helping those who are on the lower 
planes and need an uplifting hand. 

This truth is brought out very clearly by Shree Krishna 1 in the Bhag- 
wat Gita in the following words : — 

* There is nothing in the three worlds that should be done by Me, 
nor anything unattained that might be attained ; Yet I mingle in action . 
For if I mingle not ever in action unwearied, men all around would 
follow My path ; these worlds would fall into ruin, if I did not perform 
action ; I should be the author of confusion, and should destroy these 
creatures/ 

If God acts thus for the good of His creatures, why should not man 
do the like ? If all are dependent upon each other as parts of an 
Organism, and if the spiritually enlightened one has realised to himself 
his identity with all that forms this unity, it would be a contradiction 
in terms to say that he has, by the very reason of his spiritual culture, 
become a useless member of that brotherhood. 

The Bhagwat Gita 2 emphasises this lesson, as follows : — 

“ But the man who rejoiceth in the Self, with the Self is satisfied, 
and is content in the Self, for him verily there is nothing to do. For 
him there is no interest in things done in this world, nor any in things 
not done, nor doth any object of his depend on any being. . . . [even 
such a person has to perform action]. Janaka and others indeed 
attained to perfection by action : then having an eye to the welfare 
of the world, action should be performed. [For] whatsoever a great 
man doeth, that other men also do ; the standard he setteth up, by 
that the people go.” 

It must, indeed, be conceded that the highest stage, contemplated 
by the Veddnta , is beyond the reach of ordinary mortals. The path 
of the paramahamsa is, indeed, very difficult. It is said to be “ sharp 
as a razor 3 ” and hardly one that the ordinary man can be expected 
to tread. 

thus the wise say the path [to the Self] 
is hard. 


1 Bhag. Git. in, 22-24. 
a III, 17-21. 

•Hath. Up. in, 14 : — * The sharp 
edge of a razor is difficult to pass over ; 



CHAP, vm.] 


INDIAN ASCETICISM* 


139 


Shree Krishna tells Arjuna : — 

“ Among thousands of men scarce one striveth for perfection ; of 
the successful strivers scarce one knoweth Mein essence ”. 1 

Nor is one life enough for the purpose. As Suso, the German Mystic, 
puts it : — 

f ‘ Be sure thou wilt have to endure many deaths before thou canst 
put thy nature under the yoke / 5 * * * 

But ultimate success is assured to us as being within our reach. 

The religious and ethical truths which are of immediate practical 
value to man belong to the lower plane — the plane of the One and 
Many — the sphere of Relativity, as I have elsewhere often termed 
it, and here all is activity and no Quietism. 

But one must not forget that the activities implied in this sphere 
if well directed with the ideals of advatia and abheda always present 
to the mind, prepare the way for a higher and holier life. Our lower 
civilisation is but a preparation for the higher. 

These ideals of advaita and abheda are as useful to social and political 
progress as they are to the progress of the individual. The ideas of 
* dying to live 9 and of 4 living a larger 2 * and larger self * are sufficiently 
suggestive of higher and nobler aspirations. 

As stated by Rev. Charles Kingsley in connection with European 
Mysticism, I might, with equal truth, assert that the great spiritual 
laws, upon which the Ved&nta has founded its practical Ethics, 
4 hold just as good in the family, in the market, in the senate, in 
the study, aye, in the battlefield itself ; and teach (man) the way to 
lead, in whatever station of life he may be placed, a truly manlike, 
because a truly Godlike life.’ 

The teachings of the Vedanta are as practical as they are specu- 
lative. There is a vast amount of sacred literature intended to convey 


1 Bhag. Git. VII, 3. 

* Cl Ibid . VI, 30-31. 

Cf. a Christian writer’s testimony 

in this behalf contained in an article 

appearing in 4 East and West,* for 1906, 

pp. 774-776 : 44 Vedanta seems to us a 

practical creed, which, if taken in earnest, 

cannot but enrich and ennoble life, in the 


most exalted station as well as in the 
humblest position. . t . . [After refer- 
ring to what he considers the adequacy 
and efficiency of the Christian faith, 
he proceeds to say] yet these reflections 
cannot blind us to the moral excellence 
and religious truth of Vedanta, and 
we sympathise with the Hindu people 
who look upon all missionary efforts 



140 


INDIAN ASCETICISM. 


[chap. vra. 


truths of a practical character to the popular mind. Of this I may 
here mention only the two Epics — the Mahdbhdrata and the Ramdyana. 
These two Epics contain a great deal of practical teaching with his- 
torical illustrations, all founded on the Vedantic ideals of advaita 
and abheda. Great ideals are placed before the people in such a popular 
form, that very few, indeed, could be found, who are unfamiliar with 
the episodes of the great personages related in them or with the truths 
intended to be conveyed by them. They furnish topics for kirtans 1 
and bhajans 7 in every Hindu temple ; they are in the mouth of every 
rustic, young and old, whose whole life is influenced thereby. It is 
impossible to estimate this influence on their daily life, but it cannot 
be denied that it is wide and far-reaching. 

The Bhagvat Gita is another sacred book which I ought to 
mention in this connection as being one of the best exponents of the 
practical aspect of the Veddnta. 

To begin with, the practical character of the Gita is prominently 
observable in its teachings as to the true nature of devotion 
( Bhakti ) and the necessity for unselfish endeavour (Yoga of 
action). While recognising to the fullest extent the phi- 
losophical ideal of tat-twam-asi> it takes note of the broad fact 
that all men are not of the same intellectual calibre to be able to 
grasp this ideal and appreciate and realise it, all at once. Man is, 
accordingly, told that the Absolute and Unrelated cannot at once 
be intelligible to him, for it requires the most abstract contemplation 
and elevation of thought, which is beyond the ordinary powers of his 
intellect to accomplish ; that till that stage of intellectual and 
spiritual attainment is reached, he must content himself with 
contemplating and worshipping, as God, the Supreme Essence as a 
differentiated entity, in Its manifestations throughout the Universe, 
taking any of such manifestations as a symbol through which to reach 
It in a proper, moral, and religious attitude. 

Some Christian critics have denounced this as a “ conscious 
alliance with falsehood, the deliberate propagation of lies. 3” 


to make them converts to Christianity 
aa a national insult. . . . The 

Hindus require no foreign preaching — 
they have religion to the fullest in 
their own Upanishads and Bhagvat 


1 Religious Sermon accompanied with 
Musio. — ED. 

4 Devotional songs recited by a 
congregation. — ED. 

* See Hibbert Journal, 1906, p. 747. 



CHAP. VIII.] 


INDIAN ASCETICISM. 


141 


I will deal with this objection in my article on “ Hinduism and Its 
Strength 1 .” It is enough, for the present, to say that, if the use of 
symbols to explain truths, which cannot otherwise be grasped, be 
hypocrisy, we must bid farewell to all the methods of teachirg adopted 
in schools to convey abstract notions to youthful minds. For instance, 
in teaching geometry : though a point has no magnitude and a line is a 
length without breadth, the teacher has to employ diagrams, which 
are singularly devoid of these characteristics, to make geometrical 
truths intelligible to his pupils. 

If these critics think that Christian Churches have done well in 
trampling down and destroying the low* r worships, instead of explain- 
ing them, and in insisting upon one imiform standard, irrespective 
of whether it is suited to men of every grade of culture, we venture 
to say that in India v e think differently. If we provide food to human 
beings according to their physical capacity to digest it, if we regulate 
the education of the people according to their intellectual capacities 
and needs, it is obvious that we ought to observe the same law in respect 
of their religions and spiritual culture . 2 

Hinduism makes its abstract religious conceptions popular by means 
of symbols, pictures and images, never forgetting at the same time 
to impress the truth that these are but symbols and pictures , and that 
the various beliefs and worships and divinities are but manifestations 
of Brahma — the only Eternal Verity in the Universe. So that, when 
a Hindu worships his divinity by symbols, pictures or images, he 
does not worship the symbol, picture or image, but the metaphysical 
verity underlying it, all these being but manifestations of that Eternal 
Verity. 

We are here reading no modern thought into an ancient conception, 
for even before the advent of the British into India, the great Maratha 
Saint and Poet Tukaram expressed the very same idea in clear and 
beautiful language in one of his abhangas . He says : — 

“ I made an earthen image of Shiva, 

But the earth is not Shiva ; 

My worship reaches Shiva , 

The earth remains the earth it was. 

1 Unfortunately the author did not 3 See this same idea in Hibbert 

live to write this article as here intended. Journal for 1906, pp. 747, 864 and 866. 



142 


INDIAN ASCETICISM. 


[CHAP. VI IT. 


I made a stone image of Vishnu, 

But the stone is not Vishnu ; 

My worship reaches Vishnu , 

The stone remains the stone it was. 

I made a pewter image of Arriba , 

But the pewter is not Ambd ; 

Arriba receives my worship 

Through the pewter that pewter remains. 

Even so, are Saints worshipped ; 

The worship reaches the Lord ; 

The Saint is but His servant, 

An instrument, a conduit 1 pipe.” 

As has been aptly suggested, the analogy of a ladder with innume- 
rable rungs well and correctly represents the position. Each individual 
soul stands on the rung suited to itself ; and no person has a right 
to say that the rung on which he himself stands is the only true 
one and the others, false ; there is a germ of truth even in the 
lowest layers of superstition and each one must climb the ladder 
by stages and not jump over the intermediate rungs to go to 
the top. 

This very fact has rendered the religion of the Hindus elastic and 
tolerant ; it adapts and assimilates the lower forms of worship, instead 
of endeavouring to destroy them. 

The rules about lokasangraha given in the Bhagvat Gita are also 
suggestive of profound wisdom. Of these the first and foremost is, 
1 Let no wise man unsettle the mind of ignorant people attached to 
action. 3 ’ 


1 The original Marathi is worth 
quoting : — 

ftrcrfa <tt* i *nfr mtfpnaft 
%wrqpnorrerft®ji tP TmoTspfrrcwj h 
aft i w nfr wr°r 5$ 11 


I qft SIT 2 ! II 

Vi jrM wr 1 11 

Ei>. 

3 Sea Bhag. Git. Ill, 26. 



OHAP. VIII.] 


INDIAN ASCETICISM. 


143 


It is well ordained that the wise must take the ignorant masses on 
and on with them, being always with them and of them ; that they 
should act prudently and try to purify the conduct of the ignorant, 
improve their moral character and aptitude for grasping and appre- 
ciating higher truths, well remembering that it would be most 
imprudent and useless to force higher truths on them, without prepa- 
ring the ground for their reception. 

It will not be out of place to recall here the story of Moses and the 
Shepherd. The Shepherd in his prayer was using the language of an 
anthropomorphic God, and offering to serve him with food, clothing, 
etc., when Moses rebuked him saying that God was a spirit, and needed 
no such ministrations. The effect of this rebuke was that the 
shepherd lost his God, and had none other given him whom he could 
devoutly worship. 

A voice from heaven was (then) heard, saying, Ct Oh Moses, wherefore 
have you driven away my servant ? Your office is to reconcile my 
people with me, not to drive them away from me. I have given to 
each race different usages and forms of praising and adoring me. I 
have no need of their praises, being exalted above all such needs. I 
regard not the words that are spoken, but the heart that offers them. 
I do not require fine words, but a burning heart. Men’s ways of show- 
ing devotion to me are various, but so long as the devotions are 
genuine, they are accepted/’ 

The above is a complete echo of the sentiments contained in the 
Bhagvat Gita. 

The Veddnta has, therefore, wisely ordained that religious ministra- 
tion and instruction should be graded according to the varying 
receptivity ( adhikdra ) of the pupil. 

With every advance in intelligence and moral culture, each 
one is sure to find explanations which will satisfy him, and 
there will be a corresponding improvement in his religious 
attitude. 

Thus, with the backbone of the philosophical ideal, the religion 
of the Veddnta , in a thoroughly tolerant spirit, opens the patii to every 
one who is desirous of salvation. It has been rightly described as the 
“ grand Religious Republic of the Veddnta” 



144 


INDIAN ASCETICISM. 


[CHAP. VIII. 


Then as to social relations and the duties those relations impose, 
throughout the book, when it speaks of duties, the Gita tells us that 
we are bound to do the duties attached to the position in which we 
are placed. 

It first tells us that man’s mission on earth in his embodied exis- 
tence is action 1 — not one single moment of his life can anybody pass 
without 2 it. 

The entire humanity is divided into four classes according to the 
kind of Karma and the degree of development which have determined 
the situation each one occupies in this life. The duties thus assigned 
to man constitute his Dhartna and these must be religiously observed. 
One who has the s&tvic element (element of piety) preponderating in 
his nature, is enjoined to do the work of spiritual instruction and 
of elevation of man’s character in every thing that pertains to his 
moral, religious and spiritual welfare. One who has the rdjdsic element 
(of activity) preponderating in him must do all that requires activity ; 
all political activities belong to this sphere. Commercial activity 
belongs to the third class ; and the last and lowest class represents 
the people in whom the tdmas guna (element of indolence ) predominates, 
and who, therefore, stand by far in the greatest need of protection 
from the higher classes, while in a state of serfdom and bondage. 

Each man, says the Gita, must actively do the duties peculiar to 
his station in life, and these he cannot well neglect, for any neglect 
on his part would create a hindrance in the way of his further develop- 
ment in the right direction. This would constitute his sin , bringing 
its own punishment with it. 

“ Fight and conquer or die in the struggle against iniquity and 
wickedness ” is the teaching rung into Arjuna’s ears at the end of 
every Discourse. Fight in the interests of dethroned Virtue, and re- 
cover the crown for her by conquest or die in the attempt. Unmindful 
of earthly ties, fight bravely, not for bread, nor for money, nor for 
fame ; fight in the name of Duty which is thy allotted lot. 

Nor is this teaching in the least inconsistent with the other teachings 
which enjoin Non-Resistance to evil, the Return of good for evil, etc. 
It is only in the Indian Veddnta that such teachings, though appa- 


1 Bhag. Git. II, 47. 


• Ibid. Ill, 5. 



CHAP, vm.] 


INDIAN ASCETICISM* 


145 


rently inconsistent with each other, are found side by side ; and 
the key to their correct interpretation consists in a strict observance 
of the distinction which I have repeatedly emphasised in my writings. 

All social duties necessarily imply relations and active conduct for 
the maintenance and development of those relations. Shree Krishna’s 
advice to man to fight is perfectly intelligible and proper, from the 
social point of view. Man must fulfil his duties in his mundane exis- 
teuce, before he can become fit to enter the region wherein all relations 
lose their significance. 

Society as a whole can never be expect' d to enter this region, all 
at once or simultaneously. This world oi sense -experience, wherein 
man has to struggle for existence and for his supposed happiness, 
cannot be transformed into a “ Kingdom of God ” all at once. 
It contains beings of various degrees of culture, and, though they 
all may be on their onward march, they cannot be expected to reach 
the goal, all simultaneously. 

Activity must, therefore, continue to be their watchword and a 
sine qua non. 

It must also be remembered that our life in this world is one of pro- 
bation and difficulties — difficulties arising from wickedness and evil, 
fighting to conquer which must, therefore, be one of our first duties 
to society. 

Each individual has to pass through this struggle, which is nec3ssary 
to fit him gradually for spiritual enlightenment. It disciplines an I 
builds up his character and improves the tone and strength of the whole 
society. But, in carrying on this struggle, he should not allow him^lf 
to be led away by personal feelings of hatred and the like. The 
struggle is a duty undertaken in the higher interests of Society, 
and must be carried on in that spirit. The blow has to be struck, 
not that his enemy may be hurt, but that the interests of truth and 
justice may be advanced. He strikes not to chastise, but to chasten 
the offender, for, is not the one a part of the human organism as 
much as the other ? 

In this view of the matter, it is through Resistance that man has 
to go to the higher plane, where Non-Resistance to evil is the rule. 
There is, therefore, in reality no antagonism between the two princi- 



146 


INDIAN' ASCETICISM. 


[CHAP. vm. 


pies of Resistance and Non-Resistance to evil, just as there is none 
between Egoism and Altruism. They are only two stages in Evolution. 

Duties, says the Gita, must be performed by us in a spirit of complete 
selflessness, with the fact ever present to our mind that the good of 
all is our own good. Duties, begun on the lower rungs of the ladder 
may go on expanding, and embracing what are generally known as 
the duties of citizenship and patriotism, and eventually duties to the 
entire humanity and to all other beings, the principle of abhed'i being 
the truth underlying them all. 

Even a whole nation can become a model nation, if this principle 
of abheda were rightly apprehended and correctly reduced into practice. 
The individualism and self-seeking, which the present materialistic 
age unfortunately fosters, must give way before a life of altruism ; 
men under proper culture must begin to feel that each one lives not 
for himself but for the common good, their sense of egoism must become 
so far enlarged that the interest of the majority may become the 
interest of each one individually. In such a case, the people would 
identify themselves with their king, merging their will in the will of 
their monarch, and ascribing their virtues to the virtue of the king. 
The king, on the other hand, would realise the nation, as it were, within 
himself, as a company of souls grouped with mutual bonds into an 
ordered host, for the higher purposes of divine economy. 

Nor is this a mere fanciful picture of an ideal nation, impossible 
of actual realisation. History has furnished us even recently an 
excellent illustration of such a nation in the Japanese people. 

It is interesting in this connexion to notice the observations 1 of 
Professor Anesaki of the Imperial University of Japan, who, after 
referring to the precepts of his spiritual teachers, enjoining altruism 
and the sacrifice of every thing to the Dharma , remarks : — 

“ These were no mere teachings, but the morality inculcated by them 
has tuned the actual life so deeply, that self-sacrifice for the sake of 
one’s ideal has become the spirit of our national life. Applied to the 
morality of the warrior class, it has caused many warriors to die gladly 
for the sake of their lord or of the nation. The spirit of self-sacrifice 
is the vital force of our morality, and has manifested its power during 
the present war most remarkably.” 

1 Jke Hibbert Journal for October 1905. 



CHAP, vni.] INDIAN ASCETICISM, U7 

This is an instance highly suggestive of more than a bare possibility 
of realisation of the Vedantic ideal — an instance in which we find 
conquest going on hand in hand with gentleness and self-control.' 

The Gita itself gives instances of Kings leading an active life, even 
after their spiritual enlightenment. King Janaka is mentioned by 
name in III. 20. He fought battles, improved commerce and industry 
and is reported to have been one of the justest kings of the world, 
and withal one of the greatest Indian Veddntins. R&ma, the hero of 
the Ramayana, is another instance ; and a number of other instances 
might also be found showing that kingly duties were not considered 
to be in any way incompatible with spiritual culture . 

Rulers ought to be philosophers, says Plato ; and some of the Upa 
nishads 1 show that Kshatriya Kings were the custodians of philoso- 
phical knowledge and Brahmans sat at their feet to acquire learning. 

There is aho abundant evidence to show that, side by side with the 
high ideals which the Indian Veddnta placed before man, there existed 
institutions 2 in India, even in the pre-Buddhistic period, for the edu- 
cation of the young — male and female —in which all the most noble 
and heroic virtues were taught, both in theory and practice — insti- 
tutions intended for philosophical, moral, religious and political in- 
struction, for the elevation of the disciples ‘ in spirit and in action ? — 
institutions somewhat similar to those which were founded by 
Pythagoras in Crotona and other places in the sixth century B. 0. 

And, what is more important still, the teachers, who volunteered 
their services in this mission, without any pecuniary gain to themselves, 
were the very men whom European writers are wont to condemn as 
so many ‘bundles of negation’ — I mean, the Sages and Ascetics, 
who had renounced the world and who, having nothing to desire for 
themselves, were ever devoted to serve others, in order to elevate 
them to their own heights. 

How literally true was it that the Great Ones, instead of being the 
Masters, were the servants of the people among whom their lot was 
cast. 


1 See Deussen’s ‘Phil. Up.,* pp. 17-22. see BrahinavAdin for 1906, pp. 377-38S. 

* For an excellent account of these 



148 


INDIAN ASCETICISM# 


[CHAP. VIII. 


If institutions, such as those mentioned above, existed, as a fact, 
in ancient India, it might safely be inferred that they had a most 
salutary effect on the society in which they flourished, and on the 
government which advanced and encouraged them. If members of 
the royal household were among the disciples attending these institu- 
tions, if the sons of the nobility and commonalty, all received instruc- 
tion, so to speak, on one common ground — instruction based on the 
broad ideals of advaita and abheda , — such instruction must naturally 
have had a beneficial effect upon both the rulers and the 
ruled . 1 

The relations between the two must naturally have been all that 
could possibly be wished — the ruler acting with wisdom like an 
unselfish and loving father towards his children, and the ruled serving 
him in a loyal spirit with devotion and love. Filial piety and 
loyalty would, in such a case, be completely united, as they are seen 
united in Japan at the present day. 

We have thus in the Vedanta a philosophy which has never been 
“ excelled in its spiritual heights or in speculative profundity,” and an 
ethical and a religious ideal winch is eternally and universally true 
and capable of practical application. 

It has a power to strengthen the souls of the noblest man for action 
and endurance. Owing to its firm grasp of the central idea that there 
is a rational principle in the world, which is one in nature with the 
self-conscious intelligence within us, it has been able to make every 
thing bend to it. It recognises a principle of a highly practical charac- 
ter, which is legitimately deducible from it. The noble idea, of the 
entire universe being one big brotherhood — Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam 
— finds its justification and explanation in that central idea — a 
brotherhood, in which all distinctions of Mine and Thine lose their 
significance, and all are bound to co-operate, sinking their individual 
personality in the higher interests of their fellowmen. 

Such a state of society is no fantastic dream of the theorist, but 
a noble ideal, worthy of being striven after, and potent enough to 
appeal to the higher and deeper instincts of the human race. For 
what altruism can surpass benevolence or philanthropy reaching 

1 As to the state of society then prevailing, see Chap. VII, note supra 
p. 118, note 1. 



CHAP. VIII.] 


INDIAN ASCETICISM. 


149 


the supreme height of moral greatness, when the lover of his kind not 
merely rejoices in good deeds that can be reciprocated — in beneficence 
that will bring him back a return of honour, gratitude, affection, but 
is content to spend his life, like the Indian Rishis of old, for the advance- 
ment of society in knowledge and virtue, and for the happiness of 
countless multitudes in future ages, long after he, their benefactor, 
has passed away ; and what nobility is greater than that of the man 
who knows that his must be the strife, but to others shall come the 
success, that the fruit of his labours shall be reaped when he shall be 
for ever beyond the reach of earthly honour or reward . 1 

1 Cf. J. Caird’s ‘ University Sermons, of the Indian patriot, G. K. Gokhale. 
pp. 392-393. Cf. uliio the utterances'. 



CHAPTER IX, 


MYSTICISM . 1 

One of the objections taken by Christian writers to the Veddnta ideal 
of tat-twam-asi is that the potential identity of Man with God, which 
it posits, is inconceivable and absurd, while any attempt at its rea- 
lisation involves a mysticism of no practical value to man. The 
idea may, indeed, be inconceivable and absurd, if tested by the theories 
of knowledge now current in Europe. But, as stated in the previous 
chapters, these theories themselves require correction. 

It is quite obvious that, so long as we pay little heed to the laws of 
psychic phenomena, and consider the laws of our knowing the objects 
in time and space to be equally the laws of our knowing all objects, 
most of the spiritual truths must remain beyond our reach. 

Those who are competent to speak on the subject tell us that we 
do not yet know the nature of that intellectual faculty which we 
ordinarily call the mind. Notwithstanding the great researches of men 
like Gall and Spurzheim, Combe and Hollandar, medical science has 
not yet succeeded in making an exhaustive analysis of the human 
brain, with which the mind is supposed to function : it is not yet 
able, for instance, to say definitely what function the pineal gland in 
the brain or the pituitary body which is situated near it, or the capil- 
lary tube in the spinal canal perform. “Cerebral anatomists” (says 
Mr. Hudson) “ have not yet studied the subject from the standpoint of 
duality of mind.” They do not know what that which Mr. Hudson 
calls the subjective aspect of the mind is, whose functions, according 
to him, are entirely independent of the brain ; they do not know that 
“ the brain is not the organ of the highest intelligence in man.” 

The researches of the Psychic Research Society and other scien- 
tific bodies on these points have not yet received due recognition in 

1 Originally contributed to the Indian 737-740. 

Review, for 1906, pp. 683-586, 649-661, 



CHAP. IX.] 


MYSTICISM. 


151 


Christendom. And, although it is not my purpose here to advocate, 
as a partisan, the claims of these scientific bodies, it cannot be denied 
that some of the results arrived at by them have been verified in Europe 
and America, and the tendency of the present age appears to be to 
accept them as scientific facts and to accept with them the theories 
by which they are explicable. 

It is undisputed that Psychology in Europe is still in its infancy. 
AlS stated by a European writer, Europe “ has been sleeping for ages 
under the soporific influence of a spurious theology.’ * Only since half 
a century has the fact begun to dawn on the European mind that man 
is already endowed with a complete intellectual and moral equipment 
and divine potentialities ; and that he possesses powers kindred with 
Divine Omnipotence, Omniscience, Omnipresence, and Universal 
Love. 

European Science seems only now to be on the way to acknowledge 
that there is one Divine Centre — sometimes called the Spiritual Sun — 
from which are projected radiating lines of spiritual light or energy, 
which permeate all space, which is called ether ; that these projec- 
tions or rays are endowed with all the attributes, possibilities and 
potencies of the Pure Spirit ; that space (ether) is accordingly one 
endless world of consciousness, — cosmic consciousness, as it is termed 
by Dr. Buck ; that the Universe is only one continuous motion, due 
to the vibrations or radiations from the Divine Centre, and that what 
is called matter is simply the Divine Energy, “ reduced to a low degree 
of vibration ” and thus rendered visible as diverse objects which 
constitute the universe . 1 

Then, as to mind, it seems to be acknowledged as a scientific fact 
that the manifestations of the human mind are in the shape of what 
are called thought- waves or thought-forms — which are kindred in their 
character with those which proceed from the Divine Centre, and which 
it is in the power of man to make his own, if he chooses ; that in every 
step he may take in the course of his development — moral and spiri- 
tual — he comes more and more into tune with the Infinite and acquires 
powers of a far-reaching character. 

1 As to how these modern discoveries philosophy, see Vivek&nanda’s 4 Raja 
of soience are confirmatory of the ancient Yoga,’ pp. 35-36— ED. 

Indian teachings of Sdnkhya and Yoga 



152 


MYSTICISM. 


[CHAP. IX. 


Clairvoyance, Clairaudience, Telepathy, and Telekinetism are thus 
brought within the range of human possibility and obtain a scientific 
explanation. 

There is at the present day any amount of literature on these sub- 
jects of Clairvoyance, Telepathy, etc., but I am tempted to quote here 
what Mr. Hudson 1 , a scientist himself, has said about one of such powers, 
viz., the Telekinetic energy — the power to move ponderable bodies 
without physical contact or mechanical appliances : — 

“I can only say to the sceptical that I know the power to exist, having 
for more than thirty years of my life pursued the investigation of 
so-called spiritistic phenomena, under the strictest test conditions. 

. . I can assure my readers that I applied every possible scientific 

test to nearly every form of physical phenomena, especially to that of 
levitation of ponderable bodies without physical contact or mecha- 
nical aids ; and that, as the result of my researches, I am prepared to 
asseverate that the power exists in the subjective mind of man to 
cause inanimate matter to obey his will rather than the law of 
gravitation/’ 

A consideration of the powers I have above named means a con- 
sideration of the question of vibrations, involving simply an extension 
of the powers which we are all using every day of our lives. 

We are told (says M. Flammarion) of five doors to human know- 
ledge — sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste. These five doors open 
for us but a little way to any knowledge of the world around us, especially 
the last three — smell, taste and touch. All our ordinary human know- 
ledge might be symbolically represented by a tiny island surrounded 
by a limitless ocean. 

At present we ordinarily know only two out of sixty-two vibrations. 
If we succeed by a steady and progressive extension of our powers 
in acquiring finer faculties, we could surely make ourselves quite 
sensitive to the other vibrations. 

A development, then, in this direction brings to light new 
faculties of a higher order, the exercise of which brings us 
into possession of verities which are beyond the reach of ordinary 
mortals. 


1 “ Divine Pedigree of man,” p. 371. 



CHAP. IX.] 


MYSTICISM. 


153 


And though the development or exercise of such powers is ordina- 
rily discouraged as having a ruinous tendency and often leading to 
insanity, it is possible that a steady and progressive development 
could be attempted by proper culture and rigorous moral discipline 
and under proper guidance ; and the exercise of the powers thus 
acquired could be regulated and brought under the control of reason. 
In the language of Mr. Hudson, the two aspects of the human 
mind (the subjective and the objective) might thus be made 
synchronous. 

Such methodical cultivation of the higher consciousness had been, 
in days of yore, resorted to among Hindus, Buddhists, Mahomedans, 
and even Christians and bore excellent fruit . 1 The saints and sages 
of every nation — ancient and modern — furnish notable instances of 
“synchronism of development,” though curiously, indeed, accord- 
ing to Mr. Hudson, history furnishes but one instance of such perfect 
synchronism, viz,, Jesus Christ ! 

The ancient Aryans were not ignorant of the immense potentiali- 
ties of the human mind for infinite progress, and of the extraordinary 
powers actually manifested by it. In India, especially, the subject 
was closely and systematically studied. 

But, says Mr. Hudson, apparently in all earnestness, that Hindu 
philosophers were “ not content to await their allotted time but rush 
unbidden to the gates of heaven, determined to penetrate the secrets 
which Jesus withheld from all mankind and which must, for ever, 
remain a secret to incarnate man ” ! ! 

Comment on such a wild anachronism in utter disregard of history 
is unnecessary. 

Whatever Mr. Hudson might say, the most ancient Upanishads 
and the subsequently systematised siitras of Patanjali are a living 
monument of the work done by the Indian sages, which is not without 
its admirers even in Europe and America. The Indian sages of old, 
who lived centuries before Jesus, had developed, by a close study 
of the psychic constitution of man, powers which enabled them to see 
what, in our present state of ignorance, has been shut out from our 
view. The Veddntins claim that it is by means of the powers brought 


1 See Prof. James’ “ Varieties of Religious Experience.” 



154 


MYSTICISM. 


[CHAP. IX. 


to light by the teachings of Yoga that spiritual truths can come within 
man's reach. Spiritual truths could only be spiritually discerned. 

One of the most important conditions insisted on in their practice 
is a deliverance from the empire of the senses, which at once opens 
up the higher (spiritual) faculty and with it the spiritual powers pre- 
supposed in it. With them the solution of the mysterious problems 
of Whence, What, Whither, was thus found in a life and not in a book, 
as Emerson might say. It is the life they lived that brought forth 
the powers by means of which they worked directly on those pro- 
blems. 

They required nobody’s bidding “ to enter the gates of heaven,” 
but their own aptitude for discovering the key which lay within them- 
selves , and their Will to take possession of the citadel. They full well 
knew that their Yoga meant nothing more than a discipline on their 
part to develop the faculties, which we all possess but which lie latent, 
awaiting development ; that it is simply a discipline in view of further 
expansion, in right moral attitude, of individual consciousness by 
close introspection, concentration and a strong exercise of Will power 
for good. There is nothing of the miraculous or the mysterious in this 
discipline. 

They full well knew that it is in the study of the Self alone that 
the search for truth was possible, and, with full knowledge of this 
fact, they entered on a study of practical psychology, to develop in 
themselves the powers to perceive and realise spiritual truths, and they 
found that such truths could be realised by the development of the 
sdtvic element in man and a life of purity. Such realisation neces- 
sarily means self -experience ( ), which alone furnishes the 

highest certitude of the truths of spiritual knowledge. 

It is unfortunate that the importance of the aesthetic element in 
man has not been sufficiently recognised in Europe. This plays a 
most important part in the religious experience of man. It has a 
profound psychological and scientific significance. Herbert Spencer, 
too, admits that any theory of things which takes no account of this 
attribute must be* extremely defective. 

Some European writers now admit that ordinary logic, which is 
based on the assumptions of limitations on human intelligence, is 



CHAP. IX.] 


MYSTICISM. 


166 


incompetent as an organon for philosophical religious knowledge, 
which is attainable only by “ the hidden logic of a spiritual process/’ 

The organon of communication with God and divine things is (says 
Principal Caird) one which transcends the method and process of 
logic, brings the consciousness into immediate converse with its objects 
and conveys to us an inexplicable yet absolute assurance of their 
reality. Formal logic (says Prof. Inge) is utterly unsuited to spiritual 
view of things . 1 

If, then, all I have said above be true, how much of the theories 
of knowledge now current in Europe will be affected thereby ? The 
laws of Thought, as now formulated, will have to be supplemented, 
so as to include within their range rational explanations of some of 
the important psychic truths, which have been so far boastingly ex- 
cluded as so much admixture of medieval Mysticism. 

This condemnation of the mystic comes naturally from people 
who are themselves outside the pale of Mysticism — people who cannot 
go or who refuse to go beyond the faculties which they employ in 
acquiring sense-experience. They label as mysticism every thing 
that is beyond the clouds of their own horizon. They unhesitatingly 
reject whatever is incapable of verification by the theories of know- 
ledge current among them, although it is often admitted that the 
rudiment of the temper of mysticism is in all our lives, and although 
it is a historical fact that every true genius is, in one sense, a mystic, 
since every high thought which has moved the world can only be 
mystically apprehended as a flash of Divine Intelligence. It is impos- 
sible for these thinkers to realise or appreciate the possibility of a 
real irradiation of the soul from the Light that for ever shines. 

And, while thus moving still in the world of sense-experience, they 
venture to pose themselves as authorities, and criticise, from their 
plane of vision, the thought and language of Mysticism, without paus- 
ing for a moment to consider if they are really qualified to pronounce 


1 Cf. the abhanga of the Mar£th& Saint 
Tuk&r&m : — 

“ Faith alone ia proof here : leave 
Reason aside . 

Ratiocinative processes have no 
plaoe here. 

Without faith, says Tuka, words 
are a weary waste.” 


>rpn% spttot i 3 n°ffa jrnwT 11 

I cPTNRiV M 

jsr ?r5f irfcftor ii%g^r stt ftpr. 

II 

ED 



156 


MYSTICISM. 


[CHAP. IX. 


any judgment on it. In seeking to throw ridicule on Mysticism, 
they, in reality, betray their own ignorance and unphilosophical at- 
titude. The mystic tells them plainly to consider his utterances 
from his point of view ; and if they cannot or will not reach that point, 
they had better leave him and his mysticism alone. His language 
is : Judge us from within and not from without. You cannot 
really know us, unless you were of us. 

But what is Mysticism after all ? It is a moral discipline having 
for its object the acquisition of a condition, indicating, as a European 
mystic puts it, the union of Man with God, or, as an Indian Yogin 
might say, a self-realisation, within one’s self, of one’s identity with 
Brahma , the Universal Self. In fact, the Indian Yoga docs nothing 
more than show us a passage from the world of sense-experience into 
the spiritual region through the gate of ethics , in view of gaining such 
self-realisation. 

“ Our whole doctrine ” (says Jacob Boehme) “ is nothing else 
but an instruction to show how man may create a Kingdom of Light 
within himself. He in whom the spring of divine power flows, carries 
within himself the Divine Image. . . Not I, the I that I am, know 

these things, but God knows them in me.” 

Know thyself, says the Vedanta ; that Self, (it adds), is the Univer- 
sal Self and not the individual egohood which thou deemest to be 
thy own Self. 

Such is the basic truth upon which all the mystic systems work. 
However much they may differ in matters of form and detail, in their 
essence they are all alike. 

Their great achievement is the removal of barriers between the 
individual and the Absolute and the acquisition of mastery over the 
individual. In mystic states we become one with the Absolute and 
also become aware of our oneness. 

“ This ” (says Prof. James) “ is the everlasting and triumphant 
mystical tradition, hardly altered by differences of clime or creed. In 
Hinduism, in Neo-Platonism, in Suffism, in Christian Mysticism, in 
Whitemanism, we find the same recurring note, so that there is about 
mystical utterances an eternal unanimity, which ought to make a 
critic stop and think.” 



CHAP. IX.] 


MYSTICISM. 


157 


And although generally mystic experiences (as being so much what 
is felt rather than intellectually known) are in their nature incommuni- 
cable and incapable of articulate self -description, one can definitely 
assert that they tend to establish optimism and advaitism or monism. 

Mysticism in modern Europe is said to be directly due to Neo- 
Platonism and indirectly to Indian and Persian influences. 

“ There is no doubt ” (says Prof. Inge) “ that the philosophers of 
Asia were held in reverence at this period. Origen, in justifying an 
esoteric mystery-religion for the educated and a mythical religion for 
the vulgar, appeals to the example of the £ Persians and Indians.’ 
And Pliilostratus, in his Life of Apollonius of Tyana, says or makes 
his herd say, that while we wish to live in the presence of God, 

‘ the Indians alone succeed in doing so.’ And certainly there are parts 
of Plotinus and still more of his successors, which strongly suggest 
Asiatic influences.” 

Even this slight tribute to the Asiatic origin of European mysti- 
cism, Western writers are unwilling to accord. One calls it non- 
sense ; another says it is of secondary importance with an uncertain 
sound. 

We have no quarrel on this score with those who may be inclined 
to take a different view of the historical origin of European mysticism. 
We shall not be sorry, if it turns out to be totally the outcome of an 
independent development of thought, suggestive of an independent 
originality. 

It would be all the better for our argument, since European thought, 
in that view of the matter, would furnish an independent confirma- 
tion of the Indian thought. 

And whatever merit is discovered or acknowledged in the one 
must be acknowledged in the other, just as whatever objections may 
apply to the one must apply to the other. If the mysticism of any 
of the well-known Christian mystics be deemed unexceptionable, the 
Indian Veddnta ought to be freed from the obloquy cast upon it. 1 

Mysticism is essentially religious in its character ; it is always in 
quest of the Divine truth, and that Divine truth is that there is one 

1 According to Max Muller, the objec- apply with even greater force to Christian 
tions that are 'irged against the Veddnta mysticism see “ Theosophy,” p. 520. 



158 


MYSTICISM. 


[CHAP. IX. 


eternal principle which pervades the entire universe, and that nothing 
beside it is. It is based on an unfaltering conviction that our union 
with the Eternal Being, our self-realisation, must be a fact of experi- 
ence and not a mere philosophic theory. Mysticism is, in essence 
and at foundation, a scientific faith ; and it is entirely practical in 
its character. 1 There is no contradiction between Mysticism and 
Rationalism ; only their methods are’different, and involve the exer- 
cise of two different faculties of the human mind. In Mysticism 
the perception of the Absolute Principle is ‘ immediate and un- 
analysable * ; in Rationalism it is reasoned out. In fact, idealistic 
Rationalism and the deductive method peculiar to it, invariably 
presuppose, as their starting point, the immediate and a priori 
perception <)f an Absolute Principle, a perception which we call 
mystical, precisely because it is immediate and unanalysable. Platonic 
Idealism, like its offshoots, the systems of Plotinus, Spinoza, 
Schelling, begins with a mystical act and culminates in a Religion. 2 

Some of the noticeable features of Mysticism in general are 3 : — 

(a) That all Nature is living thought, and what is called Matter 

is but the last and densest expression of Spirit. 

(b) That man has an affinity with all that exists, from the highest 

to the lowest, merged in the Divine stream of Life that pours 
through the Universe. 

(c) That all that is seen is unreal, in the sense of its being contin- 

gent and transient ; and all that is invisible is real. 

(d) That as above, so below. 

(e) That man has the whole universe within himself ; he is but 

a microcosm of the macrocosm. 

(/) That the Eternal is in man, but lying hidden 'under 
earthly nature ’. 

[g) That man is, in essence, one with that Eternal. 

(i h ) That the Eternal can be experienced or realised only by the 
Pure and Righteous . 


1 Cf. Ruysbroek, Inge, Harrison, 
Charles Kingsley, Max MiSller, and Prof. 
James. 

9 Cf . Weber’s ‘Hist. Phil.,* p. 91. 

* The author omitted to give any 


references to Indian texts, in connexion 
with the following propositions whioh he 
has formulated, in the hope that the 
reader would find no difficulty in under- 
standing how far they were analogous 
to the Indian view. 



CHAP. IX.] 


MYSTICISM. 


159 


(i) Mysticism, accordingly, insists on a high ethical standard as 

a qualification for spiritual insight or vision. 

(j) And it strongly condemns false mysticism, which consists 

in the acquisition of powers (bare siddhis) without a con- 
sciousness of Divine illumination. Such powers have no 
essential mystical significance. 

(£) It insists upon the necessity and advisability of disentangling 
oneself absolutely from the changeable things of sense- 
experience and from the pleasures of the world, (c/. Eckhart, 
Tauler, Suso, &c.) 

(l) It insists upon the performance of duty for duty’s sake, in the 

name of God, without attachment and without hope of reward. 

(m) It insists on the virtues of self-abnegation, self-sacrifice, 
self-denial, humility, compassion, &c. 

(n) And it says that man has “ to endure many deaths,” before 
he can put his “ nature under the yoke.” (Suso.) 

(o) And that it is only with such preparation and after self-rea- 

lisation that man can hope to be free from metempsychosis* 
He will then be “ a pillar in the temple of God and he shall 
go out no more.” (Rev. III. 12.) 

(p) There is no other way to salvation ; however hard this may 
appear, it must be followed. (Suso.) That path, says the 
Vedanta , is as sharp as a razor. (Katha Up.) 

(q) There is no evil or sin in Nature but what is of man’s own 

making. (‘ Theo. Germ.’) 

Some of the features above formulated, chiefly, (g ), (n), (o), (p) 
and (q), are now in Christendom so many articles of a forgotten faith, 1 
and others have, I apprehend, lost their original significance and 
importance. 

1 See this view confirmed in a contri- Community rom the hands ot the cor- 
bution by a modern English writer to the rupters, and now for the first time 
* Theosophical Review,’ entitled “ A translated from the Aramaic.” It 
Gospel that is new but not disappoint- contains for a Christian Gospel, “ most 

ing,’ bringing to light a document, in unexpected teachings-rabstinence from 

the form of a Gospel, which is described flesh-eating and alcohol, kindness to 

as ** one of the most ancient and com- animals, reincarnation and Karma, con- 

plete of the early Christian fragments, tinence and prayers for the dead ; ” 

preserved in one of the Monasteries of and quotations are given, in illustration 
the Btiddhist Monks in Thibet, where of the same, of injunctions as proceeding 
t was hidden by some of the Essene from the lips of Jesus Christ himself 



160 


MYSTICISM. 


[CHAP. IX. 


The doctrine of tat-twam-asi , or, as it is termed, the deification of 
man, the doctrine of Re-incarnation, that is, of successive births and 
deaths, and of a final release from this alternation when man has found 
his home and is for ever one with the One and All — these have been 
repudiated in Europe, apparently as degenerate, if not also oriental 
barbarism. 

This is not the place to discuss these questions. That of the dei- 
fication of man I have already discussed in previous chapters. And 
as to Re-incarnation, all I may do at present is to ask the orthodox 
Christian whether he can explain, on any other hypothesis, the follow- 
ing passages, for instance, in the Bible. God promised his chosen 
people that He would send them “ Elias (Elijah) before the coming 
of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” (Malachias, iv. 5.) When 
Jesus was asked whether this promise was fulfilled before his own 
coming, his answer was that “ Elias is already come, and they knew 
him not.” Math. xvii. 12-13, and referring to John the Baptist, he told 
the people that “ he is Elias that was for to come.” Math- 
xi. 14. 

How, again, is Rev. iii. 12, which I have quoted above under (o), 
explicable ? 

And what is Christianity in its spirit but what is known as mys- 
ticism ? Was not Jesus himself a mystic, when he preached, “ Bless- 
ed are the pure in heart, for they only shall see God ” ? What, again, 
is the meaning of the Christian teaching that only he who lives in this 
world as not of this world lives a true life ? Undeniably, there is the 
mystic element in the Bible itself, notably in the Gospel of St. John 
and the Epistles of St. Paul. The early Christian Fathers also were 
mystics. 

Mystic Christianity, says Max Muller, was Christianity in its true 
spirit ; and to understand it correctly, one must (he adds) study the 
Upanishads. 

The fountain-head of Christian mysticism is said to be Dionysius 
the Areopagite, a writer with an assumed name, who lived in the 
fifth century, A.C. ; but Eckhart, who lived in the 13th century, 

There is no doubt that, if genuine, it conformity with the ancient teaching 
would be a most remarkable discovery, of the Indian Sages — ED. 
tending to bring Christ’s teaching into 



CHAP. IX.] 


MYSTICISM. 


161 


is more widely known as the father of Christian mysticism, as Plato 
was known to be the father of European mysticism in ancient times. 

The teachings of Eckhart are said to be the essence of the New 
Testament. (Schopenhauer.) “ He is the interpreter of the thoughts 
of Christ, of St. John, and St. Paul; [he was] the forerunner of 
the Reformation.” (Max Muller.) 

The teachings of the other German mystics of eminence, Tauler, 
Suso, and Ruysbroek were also on the same lines as those of their 
great master. 

The anonymous author of the Theologia Germanica, whom Luther 
greatly admired and took as his guide, may also be mentioned here. 
That little book of two hundred and twenty-five pages, while it pro- 
fesses to be to the popular mind a book useful for devotional purposes, 
is said to be the most beautiful and occult treatise, which has empha- 
sised the teachings of Jesus himself and furnished a rational inter- 
pretation of them. In this book, says Prof. Inge, we see introspec- 
tive mysticism at its best. 

The teachings of Eckhart read almost like the teachings of the 
Indian Vedanta. According to him, God becomes God by reason of 
the Word (Logos), and the universe is the language of that Word ; 
before creation, by which is meant the Platonic Ideal creation, He is 
an undeveloped potentiality of Being. God thought and willed, and 
there was the universe, and this by a process in an Eternal Now. God 
is thus both unchangeable and an everlasting process. He is every- 
where undivided, yet the creatures participate in Him according to 
their measure. To be united to God, man must rid himself of his 
* creatureliness 9 ; his knowledge must be reduced to Not-knowledge, 
and his reason and will, as well as his lower faculties, must transcend 
themselves. 

Eckhart develops the doctrine of tat-twam-asi in the ‘ Life of his 
Spiritual Daughter ’ ; and Prof. Inge suspects Indian Yogism to be 
probably the origin of this story . 1 


1 Yes, it looks like it; and if any 
further confirmation be needed of the 
Indian origin of the Christian mysticism, 
one finds it ii the illustration of the 
‘ tree of faith,' in the teachings of another 
German Mystic, Ruysbroek, — the tree 


“ growing from above downwards, for 
its roots are in the Godhead, with twelve 
branches, the lower ones speaking of 
the humanity of Christ and of things 
which ooncem the salvation of the body, 
and the higher ones speaking of the 


ii 



162 


MYSTICISM. 


[CHAP. IX. 


Christian writers are unwilling to accredit their mystics with the 
doctrine of the deification of man, as they term it ; but, as stated 
in the previous chapters, however startling this idea may appear to 
Christian thinkers of the present times, they must acknowledge that 
their own sacred writings countenance such an idea. 

The original oneness, says Max Muller 1 , of the human soul with God 
is accepted by all German mystics as the fundamental article of the 
Christian faith. 

One cannot help referring, in this connexion, to the sentiments 
on this point of that eminent Hegelian Philosopher, Principal John 
Caird. They are too long for quotation in exlenso. I can, there- 
fore, give here only a short extract, referring the reader generally to 
pages 234 — 238 of his Philosophy of Religion, which furnish very 
interesting reading in this connection. After referring to the renun- 
ciation of one’s individual self to live the Highest Self, Principal 
Caird proceeds to say : — 

“ When in the language of religion, we say ‘ I live, yet not I but 
Christ liveth in me ’ — ‘ It is God that worketh in me to will and to do 
of His good pleasure ’, pious feeling is only giving expression in its 
own way to that which philosophy shows to be in strictest accordance 
with the principle of man’s nature. . . When we attain the ideal 

perfection of our own nature, the Self that is foreign to it is foreign 
to us too, — it has become lost and absorbed in that deeper and higher 
Self, with which our whole life and being is identified.” 

This happens, according to Principal Caird, as soon as man has 
once transcended the sphere of morality and entered the spiritual 
sphere. 


Godhead, the Trinity and the Unity of 
the Divine Nature.” Compare this with 
the ( ) ashwattha tree, which is 
described in the Bhagvat Gita (XV, 1-3) 
in the following terms 

“ With roots above, branches below, 
the Ashvattha is said to be indestructible ; 
he leaves of it are the Vedic hymns ; 
be who knoweth it is a Veda-Knower. 
Downwards and upwards spread the 
branches of it, nourished by the qualities 
(Ounas) ; the objects of the senses its 
buds ; and its roots grow downwards, 
the bonds of action in the world of men. 
Nor here may be acquired knowledge of 


its form, nor its end, nor its origin, nor 
its rooting place ; this strongly rooted 
Ashwattha having been cut down by the 
unswerving weapon of non-attachment.” 

Cf. also the same idea mentioned in 
Kath. Up. VI, 1: — “There is that 
ancient Ashwattha tree, whose roots 
grow upward and whose branches grow 
downward ; — that indeed is called 
the Bright, that is called Brahman , 
that alone is called the Immortal. All 
worlds are contained in it and no one 
goes beyond.” 

i “ Theosophy,” p. 530. 



CHAP. IX.] 


MYSTICISM. 


163 


“ The very first pulsation of the spiritual life, when we rightly appre- 
hend its significance, is the indication that the division between the 
spirit and its object has vanished ; that the ideal has become real, 
that the finite has reached its goal, and become suffused with the 
presence and life of the Infinite. . . [In this spiritual life] there is 
involved the identification of the finite with a life which is eternally 
realised 1 . . . it is not a finite but an infinite life which the 
spirit lives. It is a divine spirit which animates and inspires 
it. In all its activities, it is a divine will that moves it. Every 
pulse-beat of its life is the expression and realisation of the life of 
God .” 2 

Sentiments like these are exactly the utterances of what the mystic 
feels but cannot adequately express and the saint in hearing them 
recognises his own experience in them. It is gratifying to find the 
content of religion reported so unanimously. 

And what is Prof. James’s own experience in this connection ? In 
writing about certain psychological experiences of his own, he 
says : — 

“One conclusion was forced upon my mind at the time, and my im- 
pression of its truth has ever since remained unshaken. It is that our 
normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is 
but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from 
it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness 
entirely different. We may go through life without suspecting their 
existence ; but apply the requisite stimulus, and at a touch they are 
there in all their completeness, definite types of mentality which pro- 
bably somewhere have their field of application and adaptation. . . 

No account of the universe in its totality can be final, which leaves 
these other forms of consciousness quite disregarded. . . Looking 

back on my own experiences, they all converge towards a kind of in ~ 
sight, to which I cannot help ascribing some metaphysical significance. 
The keynote of it is invariably a reconciliation. It is as if the oppo - 
sites of the world, whose contradictoriness and conflict make all our 
difficulties and troubles, were melted into unity. Not only do they 
as contrasted species belong to one and the same genus, but one of the 
species, the nobler and the better one, is itself the genus , and so soaks 


1 ‘ Phil. Rel.,’p. 281. 


2 Ibid. p. 286 



164 


MYSTICISM. 


[CHAP. IX. 


up and absorbs its opposite into itself. This is a dark saying, I know 
. . . [but] those who have ears to hear, let them hear.” 1 

Prof. James then quotes the experience of another mystic : — 

4 'The one remains, the many pass and change ; and each and every 
one of us is the one that remains.” 2 

With such credentials in favour of Mysticism, it is, indeed, surpris- 
ing that it should have been condemned in any age or by any nation 
claiming to be ranked among the civilized ; yet we know that Mys- 
ticism was at one time denounced, in no unmeasured terms, in Europe, 
and that men, eminent for learning and high virtues, for their piety 
and charity and true religious fervour, were cruelly persecuted as 
heretics by the Christian Churches — both Catholic and Protestant. 
The great masters of Mediaeval Schools, says Lilly, 3 began, since the 
Renaissance, to be looked upon with contempt by an age of conceited, 
self-sufficient half-learning, of meretricious eloquence, of inflated 
arrogant littleness. And Descartes, with his sharp distinction 
between Spirit and Nature, mind and matter, scattered, it is said, 
the phantoms of mysticism with the whole rubbish of scholastic 
formulas.4 

No wonder, then, that Christendom, backed by a false philosophy, 
which insisted on the recognition of a sharp distinction between Mind 
and Matter, Spirit and Nature, as two antithetically independent 
and eternal verities, and backed also by a spurious theology, based 
on an unnatural alliance between the Semitic and the Aryan or Indo- 
Germanic lines of thought, resulting in the recognition of a Personal 
God and Creator outside His Creation and unapproachable by far to 
mortal man — no wonder, I say, that Christendom, influenced by 
such considerations, should have denounced Mysticism and persecuted 
its votaries, whom Jesus Christ himself would have honoured. 

No wonder, also, that there should be deep-laid prejudice against 
Mysticism even now. 

One reason why it does not find favour in Europe is due to a misap- 
prehension of the doctrine that all that is seen is unreal, while what is 

1 ‘ The Varieties of Religious Ex- 3 * European History,* p. 295. 

p e "ience,' p. 388. 4 Noire. 

J Ibid. p. 389. 



CHAP. IX.] 


MYSTICISM. 


165 


invisible is real. The mystic is, accordingly, looked upon as a dreamer 
moving in unrealities, and absurdly trying to prove realities a 
dream. 

I have already discussed this point in the earlier chapters and shall 
have again to recur to it in connection with Shankar Acharya and the 
doctrine of Illusion . 1 It is enough here to say that Science has now 
come to the aid of the mystic, and furnished c the hundred and one 9 
instances in which the seen is, in a sense, unreal. 

The mystic is not a visionary as is generally supposed. His reason 
is the logic of the whole personality and not merely the logic of the things 
of Space and Time ; he is conscious of the most valuable possession 
in the inmost recesses of his heart — the Light that for ever shines— 
the Light that gives vitality to all. He has faith that, by reason 
of the moral discipline he undugoes, he can realise that Light within 
himself ; he has a firm belief in the illumination and guidance of that 
Light. 

Nor is it correct to say that Mysticism means a life of Quietism, 
of no practical good to society. I have touched upon this point in 
the previous chapters on the ‘ Ethics of the Vedanta 9 and ‘ Indian Asce- 
ticism.’ It is enough here to refer to what Eckhart and Tauler, both 
most eminent mystics, think of this objection. They believed, says 
Max Muller , 2 that it was quite possible to take part in the practical 
work of life, and yet maintain a perfect tranquillity and stillness of the 
soul within ; and, what is more conclusive still on this question, is 
that both of them took a prominent share in the affairs of the Church 
and State, and tried to introduce much needed reforms in the life of 
the clergy and the laity. 

Prof. James 3 refers to the case of another mystic — St. Ignatius — 
whose mysticism made him assuredly one of the most powerfully 
practical human engines that ever lived. 

Rev. Charles Kingsley is of opinion that the mystics are “ a terri- 
bly practical people, quiet students and devotees though they may 
seem ”. 

1 The author did not live to finish 8 4 The Varieties of Religious Ex- 

these Chapters. perience,’ p. 413. 

a Theosophy,* p. 529. 



166 


MYSTICISM. 


[CHAP. IX. 


In fact, the history of European Mysticism is the history of mar- 
tyrdom. And, indeed, if the reader were to go over the names of the 
thinkers, from the most ancient times to the present day, who were 
either mystics themselves or showed a marked sympathy with the 
mystic line of thought, he would find that true and genuine mystics 
could not have been mere visionaries. Their mysticism was Philo- 
sophy Applied, and its morals admittedly “ sweet and good ”. The 
expressions Sankhya and Yoga, as used in the Bhagvat Gita, well 
illustrate the two-fold division of Theory and Practice obtaining 
in the Indian system. 

Another reason, why mysticism is looked upon with disfavour, 
is that it is shrouded in mystery. But there is no mystery in the 
teachings of mysticism as the name implies. Whatever secrecy is 
observed by those who have entered on the practical discipline is due 
not to any desire to monopolise the knowledge of the highest truths, 
but to the excellent motive of communicating such high knowledge 
only to those who are living a life of absolute purity and righteous- 
ness, and are incapable of abusing the sacred trust and the great re- 
sponsibility which such knowledge implies. For this sacred know- 
ledge does not mean merely intellectual acquirement, but is an immense 
power for good or evil, which would make man either a God-man or 
a man-devil, according to the use he may make of it. The utterances 
of St. Paul and St. Clement on this point are confirmatory of this view. 

With such a laudable object in view, wherever Mysticism prevailed — 
whether in times ancient or modern — care was taken to protect its 
teachings from the inroads of unholy curiosity ; they were accordingly 
shrouded more or less in mystery, but were otherwise open to all men 
who came to seek them under proper guidance. Beyond this there 
was no secrecy about them. 1 

At least, such was the original object ; and although, in later times, 
we find sacerdotalism taking advantage of this wholesome principle 
of secrecy for its personal aggrandisement, the true mystic always 
denounces this corruption as boldly and vehemently as he would 
denounce any case of false mysticism, imposture and fraud. 

1 Except for obvious reasons, in secret fraternities and work in secret 
Europe in the Middle Ages, when, for conclaves, 
historic causes, the mystics had to form 



CHAP. IX.] 


MYSTICISM* 


167 


One more reason, perhaps, for the existence of European prejudice 
against Mysticism may be that the manifestations of the mystic temper 
in sudden outbursts jar on the 4 refined susceptibilities ’ of the European 
mind, and appear revolting to its 4 matter-of-fact ’ judgment 
and temper. Such manifestations are probably considered as the 
outcome of unbridled emotionalism or the ravings of the deluded. 
It is unintelligible to such observers that a person who may have 
spiritually discerned a spiritual truth is generally indifferent to all 
external conventionalities ; and this often happens in cases where 
the subjective and the objective aspects of the mind are not equipoised 
and synchronous. Such an one, though in this world, is not, for the 
moment at least, of this world. His may be 4 madness/ as Socrates 
is made to say in the Phoedrus, but it is Divine madness, which, accord- 
ing to Plato, is the source of the choicest blessings granted to 
man. 

It is possible that the so-called mystic experience may, in any par- 
ticular instance, be the outcome of what, in Psychology, is called 
auto-suggestion, that is, that one sees what one anxiously expects or 
wishes to see. It is equally possible that, for every one case of genuine 
and honest mysticism, there may be a number of cases of imposture 
and fraud. 

But when we have, connected with this movement, names of people 
well known for deep learning, purity of life, strength of character and 
honesty of purpose, it would be most unreasonable to suspect their 
experiences as being due to diseased imagination, self-delusion or 
imposture and fraud. Their high character, their wisdom, their 
possession of god-like powers, and their desire to exercise them for the 
good of humanity and never for any baser purposes, ought to give 
us the assurance that the experiences of these “ choice specimens 
of human wisdom and virtue in all ages ” have not been wrong, when 
they believed themselves to be holding communion with supersensible 
realities . 1 

And this assurance becomes all the more emphasised, when it is 
remembered that, among these 4 choice specimens/ there have been 
saints of a most marked personality. 


1 Lilly’s “ European History ” 



168 


MYSTICISM. 


[chap. IX. 


These experiences may no doubt be varied in form, but, as stated 
before, they are one iu essence. One with a philosophic turn of mind, 
for instance, may see the Eternal Verity in its purely impersonal 
form ; the experiences of others, again, who, though not philosophers, 
are, nevertheless, devoted worshippers may be somewhat different. 
A few illustrations will make this clear. 

The following cases, taken from Prof. James’s “ Varieties of Reli- 
gious Experience,” refer to experiences more or less impersonal in their 
character : — 

“ In that time the consciousness of God’s nearness came to me 
sometimes. I say God to describe what is indescribable. A presence, 
I might say, but that is too suggestive of personality, and the moments 
of which I speak did not hold the consciousness of a personality, but 
something in myself made me feel myself a part of something bigger 
than I that was controlling. I felt myself one with the grass, the 
trees, birds, insects, everything in nature .” 1 

Similarly, St. John of the Cross says : — 

<c We receive the mystical knowledge of God, clothed in none of the 
kind of images, in none of the sensible representations, which our 
mind makes use of in other circumstances. Accordingly, in this 
knowledge, since the senses and imagination are not employed, we 
get neither form nor impression ; nor can we give any account or 
furnish any likeness, although the mysterious and sweet-tasting wis- 
dom comes home so clearly to the inmost parts of our soul .” 2 

Another mystic — a Swiss — gives his experience thus : — 

“ I think it well to add that in this ecstasy of mine, God had neither 
form, colour, odour nor taste. Moreover, the feeling of His presence 
was accompanied with no determinate localization. It was rather 
as if my personality had been transformed by the presence of a Spin - 
tml Spirit .” 3 

On the other hand, as stated before, the experiences of others less 
gifted but nevertheless most sincere in their devotions, may be some- 
what different ; in their visions, these may see something more con- 

1 “ Var. Rel. Exp.,” p. 394, Note 2. a ‘ Var. Rel. Exp.,* p. 407. 

Cf. Rabindranath Tagore’s vision, * 2 bid. p. 68. 



CHAP. IX.] 


MYSTICISM. 


169 


Crete. A Christian may see Jesus in his vision ; a Hindu his Vishnu 
or Shiva ; a Suffi may see Mahomed ; but each one sees his own ideal 
of the Godhead, thus illustrating the truth contained in the Bhag- 
vat Gita. 

“ In whatsoever manner men may approach Me, even so do I accept 
them ; for the path which men may take from every side is Mine . 1 
In whatever form a devotee may seek to worship Me, in that form I 
confirm the faith of that devotee . 2 Even as to those devotees 
who worship other gods, if they worship them full of faith* 
they worship Me, though their worship is not in any approved 
form .” 3 

In all these cases the essential and underlying truth is always one 
and the same, and is as pure and spiritual at the farthest known point 
of ancient times as in its latest development. 

Christian mystics of note speak to having experienced in their own 
case the bliss of union with God ; they had visions in which they ex- 
perienced what Plotinus describes as the “ flight of the Alone to the 
Alone ”. Prof. Inge refers to — 

“ Three places in the Bible where revelations of the profoundest 
truths are recorded to have been made during ecstatic visions — -the 
revelations received by Moses, Isaiah and St. Peter. St. Paul, too, 
is said to have had such visions — visions which have every right to 
be considered as real irradiations of the soul from the Light that for 
ever shines.” 

Prof. Inge, however, warns us that these recorded experiences of 
the Christian saints ought not to be supposed as belonging to the 
essence of mysticism. Of course not, if Mysticism was under a cruel 
ban in Christendom and Christian saints of Biblical renown must be 
saved from the odium ! But the question is not whether these expe- 
riences belong or do not belong to the essence of this cruelly perse- 
cuted mysticism. It is enough that they are admitted to be of great 
psychological interest and cannot be confounded with hallucination 
or idiosyncrasy. 


1 IV, 11. 

8 VII, 21. 


8 IX, 23. 



170 


MYSTICISM. 


[CHAP. IX. 


Prof. Inge himself describes ecstasy or vision as follows : — 

“ Ecstasy or vision begins when thought ceases, to our conscious- 
ness, to proceed from ourselves. It differs from dreaming, because 
the subject is awake. It differs from hallucination, because there 
is no organic disturbance ; it is or claims to be a temporary enhance- 
ment, not a partial disintegration of the mental faculties. Lastly, 
it differs from practical inspiration, because the imagination is 
passive.” 

Plotinus 1 is worth noting in this connection ; his description of 
ecstatic condition is as follows : — 

“It is a state in which you are your finite self no longer— in which 
the Divine Essence is communicated to you. It is the liberation of 
your mind from its finite anxieties. Like only can apprehend like. 
When you thus cease to be finite, you become one with the Infinite. 
In the reduction of your soul to its simplest self, its Divine essence, 
you realise this Union, nay, this Identity.” 

Emerson, too, considers that an ecstatic vision is not a wild phan- 
tasy. The seers who realise this condition have — 

“ an access to the secrets and structure of nature by some higher 
method than by experience, and what other knowledge is neces- 
sary. . . By being assimilated to the Original Soul by whom and 

after whom all things subsist, the soul of man does then really flow 
into it.” 

And were it not for such spiritual importance and intrinsic worth 
of Mysticism, were it not for the high ethical ideal it invariably insists 
on, were it not also for the fact, as acknowledged by Plato and a number 
of other philosophers who came after him, that it is a source of the 
rarest blessings granted to man, it would have been impossible for 
Christian mysticism to have had such ‘a long and vigorous life' in Europe, 
notwithstanding the incessant persecution to which it was subjected. 
Even to this day, it is said, it is exercising its influence on many a 
learned man. 

The experiences of the mystic were, at one time, considered to be 
“ unjustifiable pretensions, all Icarus-like flights towards forbidden 
regions ”, but the time, it seems, is not far distant, when such 

i See Max Muller’s * Theosophy,’ p. 432. 



CHAP. IX.] 


MYSTICISM. 


171 


an idea will have to be abandoned, or, at least, appreciably 
modified. 

The day is past, as says a writer in the Hibbert Journal , in which the 
mystic could be ignored as an eccentric or an abnormal individual l 
his spiritual assertions are supported rather than denied by psycholo- 
gists and by ethnological research. 

In fact, the tide is now changing. There is a growing interest now 
taken in psychic questions. The fact is now begun to be realised 
that science goes hand in hand with mysticism. As Prof. Jowett 1 
remarks “ the most fanciful of ancient philosophies is also the most 
verified in fact.” 

It is now freely admitted 2 * that among the much-despised school- 
men there were thinkers of the first rank whose names may be set 
by the side of the most brilliant philosophers of ancient or modern 
times. 

A mystic reaction appears to have already set in throughout the 
West, 3 — a return to the primitive spirit of Christianity, as found in the 
teachings of Eckhart, Tauler, and Suso, proclaiming the 
direct beholding of all things in God as the source of all 
enlightenment and the resting on His heart as the sole and highest 
wisdoms 

This intuition of the Eternal is within “ the lotus of one’s own heart”. 
It is this listening to the voice that speaks within, which, as Scheliing 
truly observes, is the innermost and most real experience — of Spirit 
speaking to Spirit. This experience of “ seeing by the Inner Light ”, 
when realised, cannot be shaken away by any amount of argu- 
ment. It results in bliss, which, after it is once experienced, for 
however short a time, can never fail to exercise its influence for 
good. 

It is this experience, this vital realisation of our oneness with the 
Infinite Life which, in the Veddnta, constitutes true knowledge, Pard 
Vidyd ; (in Christianity it is called Faith); all other knowledge is 
worldly and apard . 5 


1 Ihtrod. “ Timmoe. 

3 See Noire. 

• Prof. D’Alviella. 


4 See Noire§ 

0 See Mund. Up. I, 1, 4-5. 



172 


MYSTICISM. 


[CHAP. IX. 


What this spiritual experience may be it is impossible, says the 
Veddnta, to adequately describe in any intelligible language. Any 
attempt to do so would, in the first place, imply the dualism of the 
seer and the seen, the thinker and the thought, and, secondly, it would 
result in paradoxical utterances, such, for instance, as the following : — 
c Brahma is neither cause nor Not-Cause ’ ; — ‘ It is known to those 
who do not know ; not known to those who know ; etc/ 

St. Paul also calls attention to this inadequacy of language by 
a series of formal contradictions — ‘ I live, yet not F — ‘ Dying and 
behold we live ’ ; ‘ When I am weak, then I am strong.’ It is thus 
obvious that language can only furnish us with poor, misleading, 
and wholly inadequate images of spiritual facts. As Plotinus ob- 
serves : — 

‘ God is neither to be expressed in speech nor in written discourse ; 
but we speak and write in order to direct the soul to Him and stimu- 
late it to rise from thought to vision. . . Our teaching reaches so 

far only as to indicate the way in which they [who wish to find Him] 
should go, but the vision itself must be their own achievement / 

The self-experience (Swdnubhava) here referred to is not so much 
of what becomes intellectually known as of what is spiritually felt. 
Who, then, can blame the Vedanta , if it says that Brahma is that from 
which Speech recedes . 1 The most eloquent expression to indicate 
self-realisation is Silence. The best thing that man can say about 
God is to be able to be silent about Him . 2 

Sat-chit-ananda and such like expressions are, no doubt, used in the 
Vedanta to denote the highest condition of self-realisation, but all 
these, it is acknowledged, fall short of the exact truth. 

We, on the lower plane, fully engrossed with the consciousness of 
our individual ego-hood and of our earthly relations and attachments, 
are incapable of a complete self-realisation. Situated as we are in 
this world of sense-experience, most of us have to be content with the 
degree of spiritual enlightenment within our reach ; but has not Pro- 
vidence given us an indication of the 'possibility of this most exalted 
condition of bliss ? Are there no occasions in the lives of most of us, 


1 Taitt. Up : — 


2 St. Augustine. 



CHAP. IX.] 


MYSTICISM. 


173 


when we experience a delight, pure and simple, with a complete uncon- 
sciousness, however momentary, of the ego that enjoys and the non-ego 
that occasions it ? 

There is no ‘ spurious rapture ’ of the mystic in such a case. It is 
a psychological fact which cannot be gainsaid. 

‘ The positive delight of aesthetic contemplation is to us a warrant 
that beyond individuality there is not a mere painless Nothing, but 
a state, the exuberant bliss of which cannot be compared to any 
earthly feeling of delight .’ 1 

Those who may be unwilling to acknowledge this or unable to ap- 
preciate it, are no more justified in denying the reality of such expe- 
rience than the blind man is in denying reality to the stars which he 
cannot see. They have no right to ridicule the colossal soul that 
experiences this highest bliss. Such a soul * lies vast abroad on his 
times, uncomprehended by them, and requires a long focal distance 
to be seen .’ 2 


1 Doussen’ s “ Metaphysics.” 


2 Emerson. 



CHAPTER X. 
avidya: nescience . 1 * 

This word Avidyd * which is a technical term in the Veddnta 
philosophy, is translated into English by Nescience — Ignorance. 

But the question is whether it means ignorance in the popular sense 
of the term. This certainly cannot be its meaning in the Veddnta 
writings. It would be insulting the entire human intelligence for a 
philosopher to say, for instance, as Shankar has done, that this world 
is the result of Nescience, if nescience meant ignorance as commonly 
understood, or that ‘ the Highest Lord manifests himself by means 
of Nescience . 3 

When such language is used in philosophic writings, it may indicate 
an inability to express philosophic or spiritual truths in human langu- 
age, or it may indicate emotionalism which generally results in para- 
doxical utterances ; but it could not certainly be utter nonsense or 
suggest rank idiotcy in the writer. 

What, then, is the meaning of Avidyd in the Veddnta ? 

Briefly stated, it means the natural incapacity of man, with his 
ordinary limited intelligence, to comprehend the Eternal Absolute, 
called Brahma , which is unknowable by the senses or such other means 
of knowledge . 4 * * 

Ordinarily, our faculties enable us to acquire empiric knowledge — 
that is knowledge pertaining to the phenomenal world of sense-expe- 
rience ; but that knowledge is not true knowledge. It is ‘lower’ know- 
ledge (apard vidyd) from the point of view of the Veddntin y and even 
false. All apard vidyd is avidyd. 

1 Contributed originally to the Indian * See Shankar’s Gloss on Ved. Sutr. 

Review for 1908, pp. 420-424. S. B. E. Vol. 34, pp. 190, 352. 

a For a history of the development of 4 See Shankar’s Gloss on the Bhag. 

the idea of avidyd , see Deussen’s ‘Phil. tt io, 

Up.’ pp. 74-77, and Max Mailer’s “Six ' 10 * 

systems,'* pp. 211 and following. •' 1AM H •* 



CHAP. X.] 


AVIDYA : NESCIENCE. 


175 


Philosophically avidyd is unreal. It is simply assumed to account 
for the otherwise inexplicable production of an unreal world. The 
process of ratiocination which the advaita adopts is mostly akin 
to the Eleatic dialectics ; it is technically called adhydropdpavdda 1 
arurorrmrar (superimposition and eventual elimination), and it is this. 
The world around us incessantly presses itself on our attention, 
and man cannot avoid giving an explanation of it, such as his 
own faculties, limited as they are, can suggest. By the laws of our 
thought, a positive implies a negative, Being implies Not-Being, Atman 
implies Anatman , Spirit implies Nature, Mind implies Matter; but both 
the elements of these pairs of opposites cannot be conceived 
as two co-existing eternal principles, for they would be a 
limitation of each other and would destroy the infinitude of 
both. If both of them are really existing entities, one of them 
must be subordinate to the other, as being derived from it or as 
being dependent on it. 

Strictly speaking, if the One is real, the Many, as its antithesis, must 
be unreal ; if Being is real, Not-Being must be unreal. If Brahma 
is real, the sensible universe must be unreal. These are conclusions 
forced by logical necessity. 

But with the mental equipment and the Categories of Causation, 
Time, Space, &c., to which his understanding is subject, man views 
the world and everything in it as happening in Time, as having a 
Cause, as being in Space, and as having thus a differentiated and 
independent existence. 

Here the addition and eventual sub- 
traction of the figure 1 was for the pur- 
pose of determining the value of the un- 
known quantity X. Likewise, in the 
Vcddnta , in order to realize the true 
nature of the unknown Atman , by anti- 
thesis, several unreal objects (andtman) 
have to be first super-imposed and even- 
tually eliminated. 

This corresponds to the process called 
“ Dialectics ” in Greek philosophy. It 
means the refutation of error by a reduce 
tio ad absurdum , ag a means of esta- 
blishing the truth. Zeno, the Eleatic, 
was the first to adopt this method, which, 
in the hands of Socrates and Plato, 
became a very powerful weapon of 
offence. See Lewis’s ‘Hist. Phil.,’ p. 73.— 
ED. 


1 The Maraltha Saint R&md&s aptly 
describes this process of “ adhydropa- 
pavdda ” in his D&sa-bodha, VlT, 3 (4), 
in the following terms : — “ First raise an 
unreality, then, knowing, give it up ; 
thus, Truth, in its essence, is realized.” 

[art'lf ftwn SHF.ft I 

I $ I 3W7 STlSr II ] 

This process we commonly employ in 
finding out the value of an unknown 
quantity in an algebraical equation. 
Thus 

X 3 -f2X=24. 
add 1 to both sides 

.\X a +2X+ 1—24+1=25. 
/.(X+l) a =5 3 
.\X+1 =5 
.*. X =5—1 = 4. 



176 


AVIDYX : NESCIENCE. 


[CHAP. X. 


This is Empiric knowledge, which has, no doubt, its value for its 
limited aims and ends. For, generally speaking, it is by means of 
what is called Matter, that the mind becomes revealed ; it is by means 
of Nature that Spirit is apprehended ; it is by means of Andtman 
that the Atman is self-realised. 

And the moment such revelation, apprehension or Self-realisation 
becomes an accomplished fact in its fulness, the true nature of what 
was hitherto called Matter, Nature or Andtman becomes revealed as 
being identical with its opposite. At this stage, the unreality of 
Matter as Matter , of Nature as Nature, of Anatman as Andtman, be- 
comes self-evident, for the man who has reached this stage has, ex 
hypothesi, already transcended the sphere of empiricism and entered 
into the Spiritual region, where all differentiations, due to the cate- 
gories of the human understanding, have lost their significance. 

All empiric knowledge is thus avidyd and that alone which concerns 
Brahma is vidya — pard vidyd 1 . 

Originally, avidyd simply denoted a subjective incapacity to obtain 
a knowledge of Brahma ; in course of time, it came to be looked upon 
as an objective power ; and while the Nydya system defined it as a 
“ privation (ahhdva) of knowledge,” the Vedanta excluded the idea 
of privation by the use of the expression ( bhdvarupa ) — an existent Not- 
Being in the Being itself and associated with it, and furnishing, from 
our limited point of view, an explanation of the phenomenal world. 

As an objective power, Avidyd is supposed to have two properties 
of dvarana and vikshepa, that is, of giving rise to the conceit of egoity 
or conscious individuality, and of projecting the phantasmagoria of 
a world, which the individual regards as external to himself. 

It is the Absolute Naught or Not-Being of the Hegelian system 
or the asat (unreal) aspect of Brahma, to which the Becoming of the 
Hegelians or the Samsdra of the Veddnta is due, and by reason of which, 
the Eternal Absolute is, or, according to the Advaitin , appears to 
be becoming . 

Avidyd is the power of the Atman {Brahma) to which all the manifold 
of phenomenal existence is due . 2 It is by avidyd that the ‘only One 

1 Mund. Up. 1, 1, 6. by the power of Mdyd (avidyd) in Atman' 

a M&ndukya. Up. Ill, 10 ' “ All [ ^TT^T 1 TT j n^l3r?TI« I 

entities are mere dream, being sent forth 



CHAP. X.] 


AVTDYa : NESCIENCE. 


177 


existent’ (Sadekameva) is differentiated as so many things undergoing 
production, destruction and the like-changes, like an actor on the 
stage . 1 

Shankar calls Avidyd the primeval natural nescience, which 
has its use for our limited aims and ends in practical life . 2 Consisting 
in the notion of variety involving actions means and ends, 
it is always present in the Self (dtman) in the following form : 
“ Mine is action. I, the agent, will do such an action, for such 
and such a result.” This avidyd has been active since time 
immemorial. 

The unmanifested Brahma is assumed to contain avidyd within it 
as its limiting adjunct, giving rise to the notion of Mdyd , of a personal 
God, ^ and of Samsdra as the result of their joint activity . 5 

It is obvious that avidyd , in the above passages, is likened to Mdyd. 
All objects in the creation are projected by the power of illusion in 
the Atman. This power of dtman is called avidyd ; all objects are 
evolved from it and are, therefore, from a philosophic point of view, 
unreal . 6 

As in the case of Mdyd , so here, questions are asked whether this 
Avidyd (Nescience) is a product and if so, how it is caused ? If a 
product, what is its cause ? Certainly, not the Absolute Brahma 


r Shankar’s Gloss on Bhag. Git. 
XVIII, 48 “ 

2 Shankar’s Gloss on Ved. Sutr III, 
2, 15 ; S. B. E. Vol. 38, p. 156 

* Shankar’s Gloss on Bhag. Git. 
XVIII, 66 

‘ ’ ‘af? Wisg'^r 

*5 5)4 arffor argils 

Of. “Indian Thought” for 1907, 
p. 76 : — 

“ We cannot deny the anddi (imme- 
morial) avidyd which our immediate 


consciousness vouches for as some- 
thing, which, while depending on the 
existence of the inward Self, hides and 
obscures the intelligence and bliss of 
the Self. Were we to deny this, we 
should have to deny the inward Self as 
well.” ( Vivarana prameya Sangraha ). 
As to why avidyd is immemorial, 
see ibid. p. 76, and p. 153 for 
why avidyd is a positive entity. As 
to how avidyd abides in the Self, ibid . 
pp. 79, 297, 304, 368, 380. 

* Shankar’s Gloss on Ved. Sutr. I, 2, 
22 ; S. B. E. Vol. 34, pp. 140, 243. 
a Ibid. p. 268. 

a Shankar’s ‘Gloss on Mindukya, 
Up. Ill, 10 

'3TF?»r*rwT 3fT«r4t *n*n sfrsir 

33T 3 Wn4<T: 



178 


AVIDYa : NESCIENCE. 


[CHAP. X. 


itself, for, ex hypothesis it is actionless and changeless. If not a pro- 
duct, is it another entity self-caused and like Brahma itself ? 

The answer given is that it is inscrutable and inexplicable (amr- 
vachaniya). It is neither sat nor asat — not sat , because it is not eternal, 
not asat , in the sense of precluding all possibility of existence in one’s 
experience, like the ‘horns of a hare’ ox the ‘son of a barren woman’. It 
is something which presents us with the spectacle of an external world 
in which we experience pleasure and pain, and appears also in our 
consciousness and entangles us in the principle of Individualism* 
It is thus more than nothing but less than real. 

Perhaps, it is like “ Opinion ” of the Greek Philosophers, which 
Plato defines as “ something lying between the purely existent 
and the absolutely non-existent 1 — something more dusky than know- 
ledge [but] more luminous than ignorance.” 

This, then, appears, to be the Vedantic sense of Avidyd. It is the 
negative aspect of Brahma, which, coupled with the positive aspect, 
becomes the origin of the Universe. To the Veddntin , avidyd fur- 
nishes an explanation 2 of the Universe, and denotes all that has come 
into existence. 

On a general review of the Upanishads, of the Vedanta SCitras, of 
the Bhagvat Gita, and of Shankar’s commentaries thereon, it would 
seem that the word avidyd is variously used to denote 

1. Nature or Creation 3 ; 

2. The Mystery underlying Nature 4 ; 


1 See G. H. Lewis, quoted in Jacob’s 
‘Vedanta S&ra,’ p. 48 n. 

2 Professor Ferrier, who could not 
take the bold step of proceeding yet 
further, states it as his conviction that 
“ some great truth lies here ; that here, 
if anywhere, is the embryo of the solu- 
tion of the enigma of the universe. I 
am convinced that the unity of contra- 
ries is the law of things; that all life, all 
nature, all thought, all reason, centres 
in the oneness or conciliation of Being 
and Not-Being.” (‘ Greek Phil.’ p. 145). 
This is no doubt a solution of the pro- 

blem of the universe, but valid only to 

us and to intelligences like ours. And 
such a solution the Veddnta has given 
at one of the stages of philosophic 
thought in India; the conception of 
Sad-asat or union of * Kahetra and 


Kshetrajna ( ) in tile 

Bhag. Git. IX, 19 ; XIII, 26, means the 
unity of Being and Not-Being. But 
that is not enough. What Philosophy 
needs is a solution of the problem of 
existence— of what is, as distinguished 
from what appears to be — and such a 
solution, moreover, must be valid not 
only to our own intelligence but to all 
possible intelligences. Such a solution 
only the Eleatics in Greece and the 
Advaitins in India have been bold 
enough to attempt. See Chap. Ill, sujpra % 

8 Cf. Shankar’s introdn. to Brihad. 
Up. Tukaram Taty&’s Edn., p. 53. 

4 Ibid, pp. 54-55 ; and see Shank&r’s 
Gloss on Bhag. Git. XVIII, 48, MahA- 
deva Sh&stri’s translation, p. 331. 



CHAP. X.] 


avidya: nescience. 


179 


3. Mdyd , the postulated cause of Nature ; 

4. The innate forms of the human intellect, viz., Time, Space, 
Causality, &c., which stand, so to speak, between us and 
Brahma x ; 

5. In other words, the Limitations on the human understanding, 
or the incapacity to understand the mystery underlying 
nature ; 

6. The principle of Individuation and our entanglement in 
that principle ; 1 2 

7. Our identification with our body and the organs of sense, 
which are themselves the products of Nature 3 , Prakriti ; 

8. The consequent erroneous imposition of the attributes of one 
upon the other, as when I say 4 * I am fat or I am lean/ the 
properties of prakriti are ascribed to the Ego, or, on the other 
hand, when I say 4 my body feels/ 4 my mind tells me/ the 
property of intellectual activity ( chaitanya dharma) is 
ascribed to the products of prakriti ; 

9. Our attachment to things earthly 4 ; 

10. Empirical knowledge generally. 

As stated before, the terminology used by the Vedantins has always 
to be borne in mind before the reader could understand the rationale 
of their writings. It is only then that he will be able to understand 
and appreciate such noteworthy passages as the following, which 
might, otherwise, appear absurd : — 

44 The Highest Lord manifests Himself by means of Nescience^. # 
The whole world exists in the sphere of Nescience 6 .. .Manifoldne 33 
is fictitiously created by Nescience.. .Plurality is due to Nesci- 
ences. .Nescience is the seed of all manifestation 8 . . .It is the* 


1 The mind or intellect (Manas) is 

itself said to be avidyd . “ The wise, 

who see the truth, have described the 

■ Manas as avidyd , by which is moved the 
world, as clouds by the wind.” Viveka 
Chudamani, verses 182, 172. 

2 See Shankar’s Gloss on Bhag. Git. 

XVIII, 00, Mahadeva Sh&stri’s Trans- 

lation, p. 344. (See note 3, p. 177 supra). 

8 Shankar’s ‘Gloss on Ved. Sutr. S. 

B. E. Vol. 38, pp. 03*5. See also Deus- 


sen’s ‘ Phil. Up.’ p. 77. 

4 Kath. Up. 2 Madras Series, . 

a Shankar’s Gloss on Ved. Sutr. S. 
B. E. Vol. 34, pp. 190, 352. 

6 Ibid. pp. 135, 155 ; aldo S. B. E. 
Vol. 38, p. 294. 

7 S. B. E. Vol. 34, p. 352 ; and Vol. 
38, pp. 54, 55. 

8 Shankar on Ken.Up. I. 3 ; I Madras 
Series, p. 44 



180 


AVIDYa : NESCIENCE. 


[CHAP. X- 


seed of worldly life 1 * * * * . . .All beings are sleeping in the beginningless 
Nescience*. .. Names and Forms are presented by Nescience3. . . 
The body is the product of Nesciences . .The elements and the 
sense organs are the product of Nesciences. The conditions of being 
agent, enjoyer, are due to Nescience 6 . . .At death the soul takes 
Nescience with it 7 . ..All that is knowable is of the nature of Nesci- 
ences Karma is Nescience 9 . ...Birth and Death are Nescience. 10 ” 

In fact, avidyd means, as Professor Max Miiller puts it, “ common 
sense with its well understood limitations, or the wisdom of the 
world.” It practically means our worldly life, unenlightened by a 
knowledge of the Divine truth, which alone is the truest and highest 
knowledge, all other knowledge being deemed lower and, from the 
spiritual point of view, designated as false. 

What we ordinarily call knowledge is worldly knowledge, acquired 
by the mind through the senses. As stated before, it is concerned 
with all that pertains to the phenomenal world of sense-experience — 
with objects which, as conditioned by Time, Space and Causality, 
appear in their condition of differentiation and separation. 

Such knowledge is avidyd , and the highest that might be predi- 
cated of such knowledge is that “ in its ultimate essence nothing can 
be known.” 11 

As Hudson 12 properly remarks, Nature conceals God ; Man reveals 
him ; the more we study physical nature, the farther God is removed 
from us ; the more we study Man, the nearer God approaches to us. 

There is a tendency of human nature persistently to look outward 
and seek happiness in the external world. Empirical knowledge 
thus becomes an obstacle to the realisation of Unity which is the 
highest truth. In this sense, it is called the enemy of (true) knowledge 


1 S. B. E. Vol. 34, p. 300. 

* Shankar’s Gloss on Kath. Up. Ill, 
14, 2 Madras Series, p. 58. 

• S. B. E. Vol. 34, pp. 140 and 
following. 

♦ Ibid. p. 244. 

• Ibid. p. 281. 

8 S. B. E. Vol. 38, pp. 54, 55. 

7 Ibid. p. 102 


8 Shankar’s Gloss on Ken. Up. I, 
Madras Series, p. 44. 

9 Shankar’s Gloss on Ish. Up. 11, 
Tukaram Tatia’s Translation, p. 637, 
note 2. 

10 Svet. Up. Ill, 8, and Shankar’s 
Gloss thereon. 

11 H. Spencer; see also Hudson's 
‘ Future Life,’ pp. 66-7. 

13 Ibid. pp. 260-1. 



OHAP. X.] 


AVIDYA : NESCIENCE, 


181 


( Dnydna virodhi). It throws a veil (the veil of creation) and hides 
the true reality from our view ; it throws a mist on our understanding 
and creates in us a tendency to attach ourselves to the creation as the 
true reality . 1 

And if it ought to be our aim to discover the true Reality, the Ve- 
ddntin rightly suggests, what Socrates taught in Greece : — •“ Turn in- 
wards and know thyself /’ 2 

A study of Nature alone, in this view of the matter, will not help 
us in reaching the goal. That study by itself is of use in the affairs 
of this world — for the practical life of man, but not for the higher or 
spiritual life. It must be made to subserve the higher end, and this 
is possible only when man develops, by proper culture, his capacity 
to grasp higher truths. He must rise above Nature and by close 
introspection and development (under rigorous moral discipline) of 
his powers, which are potentially great, endeavour to discover the 
Divine truth, using, where necessary, the instruments furnished to 
him by Nature itself, but without attaching himself to, or identifying 
himself with them. 

If he enters on the path in the right attitude, he will begin to see 
things differently ; he will begin to realise that there is One eternal 
Principle pervading all creatures and its appearance as Many is like 
the ‘ reflections of the moon in water’ 3 . He will begin to see that 
the anatman is being transformed and, by assimilation, takes on the 
character of dtman itself, just as iron when heated becomes red hot 
and acquires the properties of fire . 4 

In other words, he will begin to see that experience which begins 
in this world, with the synthesis of the Self and the Not-self-of dtman 
and its supposed antithesis andtman — must end in the Spiritual region 
with Unity and Identity. 

How this is possible I have endeavoured to explain at length in the 
previous chapter on Knowing and Being. 

T Bhag. Git. V, 15. 3^^ II 

3 “ The capaoity to turn inward is See also supra p. 72. 
alone Vidyd (true knowledge)”. I 

^Tlrtfar ffaT ’’ BTT^rTT^ rf^TT II 

• ^ ^ ft *icTTc*TT I HTOflC cited supra p. 60. 



182 


AVIDYa : NESCIENCE. 


[CHAP. X. 


It is enougk here to note that there is Divine Intelligence in Nature 
as there is in Man ; and that thought and intelligence is presupposed 
in all objective reality. To deny this is to subvert the fundamental 
basis of all knowledge, and to reduce the intelligible world to a 
chaos. 

The whole of Nature is pervaded by thought akin to our own ; and 
what happens in every cognition is, as previously pointed out, that the 
perceiving Subject unites itself with the Self in the object perceived ; 
if the cognition which ensues be incomplete, that is, if the object per" 
ceived be not perceived in its entirety, from all possible points of 
view, as is generally the case in ordinary human cognitions, the per- 
ception constitutes a mere act of perception and the person perceiving 
(th ejiva of the Vedanta system) is said to be merely a knower, and 
the dualism of the knower and the known continues. In the degree 
that the knower has entered into the spirit of the thing perceived, 
he is said to have known that thing, and in the degree that he has 
known it, he is “ at home '' with it. This is the meaning of the 
expression that to know a thing is to become it. 

Those who are competent to speak on the subject tell us that at 
this high stage of moral and spiritual culture one sees things which 
are concealed from ordinary humanity by the illusion of the senses. 
Ordinarily, however, the senses, by hiding the higher verities from our 
gaze, are in reality our benefactors, since they prevent us from per- 
ceiving that which, if realised without due preparation, would throw 
us into unutterable consternation — things which we could not bear 
to behold 1 . The Bhagvat Gita in Chapter XI gives an excellent 
illustration of this truth. 

In this view of the matter, avidyd is bliss where it is folly to try 
to become wise without a proper preparation and guidance. Verily, 
the path to self-realisation is ‘ sharp as a razor'. 


T Cf. Steiner. 



CHAPTER XI. 

SAT-ASAT (BEING AND NOT-BEING 1 ). 


It appears that in the most ancient times, these words, sat and asat , 
meant exactly the opposite of their modern significations. Whether 
the word sat had anything to do with the Eternal Reality would 
depend upon whether there was at all then a belief in such Reality. 

European Orientalists say that Polytheism was the primitive form 
of belief in Vedio times and that abstract conceptions of the Deity 
were only the work of a later period, when speculation had made 
considerable ad vance. 2 

But there are, even according to these thinkers, passages in tin 
earlier Books of the Rig Veda, which suggest an advance towards the 
idea of a Sovereign Deity. Rig Veda, I, 89, 10, 3 for instance, is 
thoroughly pantheistic, as it asserts all things to be the manifestations 
of one All-pervading Principle, which, in this hymn, is designated 
Aditi. In Rig Veda, III, 55, 4 1, again, it is said that “the great divinity 
of the gods is one.” So, too, Rig Veda, I, 164,5 according to Sayamt- 
charya, conveys the principal doctrines of the Vedanta philosophy or 
the unity or universality of the Spirit, now called Brahma. It asks, 
inter alia , 'who is that One alone, who has upheld these six spheres in* 
the form of the Unborn ? Whence is the Divine Mind in its supremacy ^ 
engendered V It refers to the now well-known illustration of two 
birds associated together and perching on a fig tree, where one of 


1 Originally contributed to the Indian 
Review for 1909, pp 344-349. 
a Muir’s Sanskrit Texts, V, 251. 

5 “The Goddess Aditi is the heaven, 
Aditi is the sky, Aditi is mother, father 
and son. All the Gods are Aditi , the 
Five People are Aditi, Aditi is all that is 
created as well as Creator.' 1 

arftrt-. tfr 3*^ rn?n 

sr ftfTT « 3*’- ! 
arfrfrp STftfrP STIrf 


it*?: ? jti arsrer 

1%^ 7^.11 ’ Verae 6 
m- snrmn f verse 18. 

TT^t: 3T*T: fr-'T® 3Tf% 31^ 3T*TT 
II ’ Verse 20. 



184 


SAT-ASA? (BEING AND NOT-BEING). [CHAP. XI. 


them is eating the sweet fig, while the other is simply a looker on. 
It also refers to the well-known formula, ‘ ekam sat vipr&h bahudhd 
vadanti 9 : that which exists is One : sages call it variously. 

But by far the best evidence of Monistic conception in the Vedio 
times is afforded by the two hymns of the Rig Veda, known as the 
Purusha Sukta 1 and the Ndsadiya S&lda 2 . These may have been com- 


1 Rig Veda, X, 90 ; see translation, 
Muir’s Sanskrit Texts, Vol. 1, p. 9, and 
Vol, 5, p. 368 : — 

“ 1. Purusha has a thousand heads, 
a thousand eyes, a thousand feet. On 
every side enveloping the earth, he 
overpassed (it) by a space of ten fin- 
gers. 2. Purusha himself is this whole 
(universe), whatever has boen and 
whatever shall be. He is also the lord 
of immortality, since (or, when) by 
food he expands. 3. Such is his 
greatness, and Purusha is superior to 
this. All existences are a quarter of 
him ; and three-fourths of him are 
that which is immortal in the sky. 
4. With three quarters Purusha 
mounted upwards. A quarter of him 
was again produced here. He was then 
diffused everywhere over things which 
eat and things which do not eat. 5. 
From him was born Viraj, and 
from Virdj, Purusha. When born, 
he extended beyond the earth, both 
behind and before. 6. When the gods 
performed a sacrifice with Purusha as 
the oblation, the spring was its butter, 
the summer its fuel, and the autumn 
its (accompanying) offering. 7. This 
victim, Purusha, bom in the beginn- 
ing, they immolated on the sacrificial 
grass. With him the gods, the 
Sadhyas , and the rishis sacrificed. 
8. From that universal sacrifice were 
provided curds and butter. It formed 
those aerial (creatures) and animals 
both wild and tame. 9. From that 
universal sacrifice sprang the rich and 
sdman verses, the metres, and the 
yajush . 10. From it sprang horses, 
and all animals with two rows of teeth ; 
kine sprang from it; from it goats 
and Bheep. 11. When (the gods) 
divided Purusha, into how many 
parts did they cut him up ? what was 
his mouth ? what arms (had he) ? 
what (two objects) are said (to have 
been) his thighs and feet ? 12. The 

Brdhman was his mouth ; the Rdjanya 
was made his arms ; the being (called) 
the Vaisya, he was his thighs ; the 


Sudra sprang from his feet. 13. The 
moon sprang from his soul ( manas), 
the sun from his eye, Indra and Agni 
from his mouth, and Vdyu from his 
breath. 14. From his navel arose 
the air, from his head the sky, from 
his feet the earth, from his ear the 
(four) quarters : in this manner (the 
gods) formed the worlds. 15. When 
the gods, performing sacrifice, bound 
Purusha as a victim, thero were seven 
sticks (stuck up) for it (around the 
fire), and thrice seven pieces of fuel 
were made. 16. With sacrifice the 
gods performed the sacrifice. These 
were the earliest rites. These great 
powers have sought the sky, where 
are the former Sddhyas , gods.” 

Cf. also Max Muller’s “ Hist. Sans. 
Lit.”, p. 570 

a Rig Veda, X, 129 : — 

“ Then was not non-existent nor 
existent : there was no realm of air, 
no Bky beyond it. 

What covered in, and where ? and 
what gave shelter ? 

Was water there, unfathomed depth 
of water ? 

2. Death was not then, nor was there 
aught immortal : no sign was there, 
the day’s and night’s divider. 

That One Thing, breathless, breathed 
by its own nature : apart from it was 
nothing whatsoever. 

3. Darkness there was: at first con- 
cealed in darknesB, this All was indis- 
criminated chaos. 

All that existed then was void and 
formless : by the great power of 
Warmth was bom that Unit. 

4. Thereafter rose Desire in the 
beginning, Desire, the primal seed and 
germ of Spirit. 

Sages who searched with their heart’s 
thought discovered the existent’s kin- 
ship in the non-existent. 

5. Transversely was their severing 
line extended : what was above it 
then, and what below it ? 



CHAP. XI.] 


SAT-ASAT (BEING AND NOT-BEING). 


185 


paratively later in date than the other hymns, as European 
Orientalists suppose, but they are admittedly earlier than the Atharva 
Veda and, therefore, decidedly of great antiquity. 

They unmistakably point to a belief in One Supreme Being 1 — a 
belief which seems to have been as primeval a conception in Theology 
and Cosmology as absolute or despotic monarchy was the primitive 
conception in archaic society. 


There were begetters, there were 
mighty forces, free action here and 
energy up yonder. 

6. Who verily knows and who can 
here declare it, whence it was bom 
and whence comes this creation ? 

The gods aro later than this world’s 
production. 

Who knows then whence it first 
came into being ? 

7. He, the first origin of this crea- 
tion, whether he formed it all or did 
not form it. 

Whose eye controls this world in 
highest heaven, he verily knows it, 
or perhaps he knows not.” 

Griffith’s Translation, Vol. 4, p. 367. 

Cf. Max Miiller’s ‘Chips Ger. Work’. 

I. 78 and Lilly’s ‘ Anc Rel. Mod. Th.’ 
p. 133. 

1 See also Rig Veda, IV, 40, 5 : — 

“ He is HANSA (the sun), dwelling 
in light ; VASU (the wind), dwelling 
in the firmament ; the invoker of the 
gods (AGNI), dwelling on the altar ; 
the guest (of the worshipper), dwell- 
ing in the house (as the culinary 
fire) ; the dweller amongst men (as 
consciousness), the dweller in the 
most excellent (orb, the sun), the 
dweller in truth, the dweller in the 
sky (the air), born in the waters, in 
the rays of light, in the verity (of 
manifestation) in the (eastern) moun- 
tain, the truth (itself).” 

Translation, Wilson’s 1 Rig Veda 
Sanhitd ,’ Vol. Ill, p. 199. 

Rig Veda, X, 81 

“ He who sate down as Hotar - 
priest, the Rishi, our father, offering 
up all things existing, — 

He, seeking through his wish a great 
possession, came among men on earth 
as archetypal. 

2. What was the place whereon he 
took his station ? 

What was it that supported him ? 
How wasit ? 

Whence Visvakarman seeing all, 


producing the earth, with mighty 
power disclosed the heavens. 

He who hath eyes on all sides round 
about him, a mouth on all sides, 
arms and feet on all sides, He, 
the sole god, producing earth 
and heaven, weldeth them, with his 
arms as wings, together. 

What was the tree, what wood in 
sooth produced it, from which they 
fashioned out the earth and heaven ? 

Ye thoughtful men inquire within 
your spirit whereon he stood when he 
established all things. ****’’ 

Griffith’s Translation, Vol. 4, p. 260. 

Rig Veda X, 82 : — 

“ 1. The father of the eye, the wise 
in spirit, created both these worlds 
submerged in fatness. 

Then, when the eastern ends were 
firmly fastened, the heavens and the 
earth were far extended. 

2. Mighty in mind and power is 
Visvakarman, Maker, Disposer, and 
most lofty Presence. 

Their offerings joy in rich juice where 
they speak of One, only One, beyond 
the Seven Rishis. 

3. Father who made us, he who, 
as Disposer, knoweth all races and all 
things existing. 

Even he alone, the deities’ name 
giver, — him other beings seek for in- 
formation. 

4. To him in sacrifice they offered 
treasures, Rishis of old, in numerous 
troops, as singers, 

Who, in the distant, near, and lower 
region, made ready all these things 
that have existence. 

5. That which is earlier than this 
earth and heaven, before the AsurAs 
and gods had being, — . 

What was the germ primeval whioh 
the waters received where all the gods 
were seen together ? 

6. The waters, they received that 
germ primeval wherein the gods were 
gathered all together. 



186 


sat-asat (being and not-being). 


[CHAP. XI. 


The first of these hymns, the purusha stikta , emphasises the idea of 
Sacrifice, which is the basic principle of Altruism, and which has ren- 
dered the Ethics of the Ved&nta universally acceptable. It explains 
the entire creation as an act of Supreme self-sdifcrifice — the sacrifice 
of the Supreme Being, Purusha , that He might ‘ call into 
existence and contemplate and commune with those dependent 
images of Himself ’ which form the object of His thought 
and love. This He did by sacrificing a fourth part of Himself. 

‘ Let me sacrifice myself (said He) in living things and all living 
things in myself/ and He then acquired greatness, self-effulgence 
and lordship. He thus limited Himself by this partial sacrifice, that 
His life might produce and sustain a multiplicity of separate lives . 1 

The other hymn, nasadiya sukta, clearly asserts that, while it is 
impossible to say whether this Universe was or was not in the beginn- 
ing, there is no doubt that there was and always has been the One 
Supreme Being in whom we have our being. 

The Only One breathed calmly by Itself, other than It, nothing since 
has been. That One desired to become many and It became many by 
tapas . 2 It thought and willed and created all this Universe ( idam ). 
Prior to what is called the creation, all was in an undifferentiated 
condition ; ‘ there was not death nor immortality, there was no dis- 
tinction between day and night/ 

The One willed and became many, it is true ; but how it did so is 
a mystery to Man, who has not yet attained the highest stage of Self- 
realisation. From the standpoint of the Universe, as the Brihad 


It rested set upon the Unborn’s 
navel, that One wherein abide all 
things existing. 

7. Ye will not find him who pro- 
duced these creatures : another thing 
hath risen up among you. 

En wrapt in misty cloud, with lips 
that stammer, hymn-chanters wander 
and are discontented.” 

Griffith’s Translation, Vol. 4, p. 261. 

See Prof. Roth’s excellent remarks 
on Vishvakarman quoted at 4 Muir’s 
Sanskrit Texts, p. 8. See also Taitt. 
Up. the preliminary invocation : — 

“May Mi ttra grant us welfare, — 
Vanina grant us welfare, — AryamA 
grant us welfare, — Indra (and) Bri- 
haspati grant us welfare, — the far- 


stepping Vishnu grant us welfare, — 
Salutation to Brahma, — Salutation to 
thee, 0 Vayu — Thou art even visibly 
Brahma. — I will call thee even the 
visible Brahma, — I will call (thee) 
just, — I will call (thee) true. — May he 
(Brahma) preserve me, — preserve the 
speaker, — preserve me, — preserve the 
speaker.” 

Dr. Roer’s Translation, TookAram 
Tatya’s Upanishads, p. 447. 

1 See Chap. VII, “ The Ethics of the 
VedAnta, ” supra p. 113. 

a Tapas in such passages means 
thought ; See Shankar on Taitt. Up. II., 
6 ; Madras Series, p. 520 ; See also on 
tapas, supra , pp. 132, 133, 



CHAP. XI.] 


SAT-ASAT (BEING AND NOT-BEING). 


187 


Aranyaha 1 tells us, “ The Immortal is veiled by the (empirical) reality,” 
or, as the Bhagwat GUa 2 puts it, Knowledge is veiled by Nescience, 
and thereby men are deluded. 

It is this sAkta which, according to Gough, contains the 
germ of the doctrine of Mdyd — a doctrine which plays an 
important part in the philosophy of the Advaita. The One, the 
sole Reality, which has always lain hidden in an inexplicable 
principle of Unreality, permeates and vitalises all things through 
the agency of that Unreality. This is Cosmical Illusion — Mdyd 
or Avidyd. The doctrine of Mdyd is thus not a later graft upon 
the old Ved&nta philosophy as supposed by Colebrooke and Max 
Muller . 3 

It is interesting to note in this connection a passage in Rig 4 Veda 
in which it is intimated that Indra is the only real object of adoration 
to whomsoever any hymn may be nominally addressed, whether to 
Agni, Vishnu, or Rudra ; for it is Indra, who by the power of his 
Mdyd assumes various forms and proceeds to his worshippers in 
multiform manifestations ; the horses yoked to his car are a 
thousand. 

Coming now to the words sat and asat , as they were used in the most 
ancient times, it is quite clear that the One Supreme Principle or 
Being was not called sat. It was perhaps deemed to be beyond both 
of them, or, what is more probable, it came in the category of asat , 
as meaning an incomprehensible and invisible Being from which the 
Universe arose . 5 


1 1, 6, 3 — ‘ OT*' 

3 V., 15:— ^Tfrf *TRT rff 

gsif?r 

* See Deussen’s * Phil. Up.’ and 
Gough’s 1 Phil. Up.’ 

4 VI, 47, 18 : — 

* INDRA, the prototype, has as- 
sumed various forms, and such is his 
form as that which (he adopts) for his 
manifestation : INDRA, multiform by 
his illusions, proceeds (to his many 
worshippers), for the horses yoked 
to his car are a thousand.’ Translation, 


Wilson’s ‘Rig Veda Sanhiti.’ Vol. Ill 
p. 473. 

4 See Chand. Up. VI, 2, 1 
“ In the beginning, my dear, there 
was Sat alone, one only without a 
second ; others say, in the beginning 
there was Asat alone, one only with- 
out a second ; and from Asat Sat was 
born." 

[ ^ «T«T ft 3W 

fr^f <r*T 3TTI s * E f i aw antfq. 



188 


SAT- ASAT (BEING AND NOT-BEING). 


[CHAP. XI. 


A passage from the Shatapatha Brdhmam' probably the oldest com- 
mentary on the Ndsadiya Sukta according to Dr. Muir, says : — 

“ In the beginning, this Universe was not either, as it were, non- 
existent, nor, as it were, existent. In the beginning this Universe 
was, as it were, and was not, as it were. Then it was only that mind 
( tad ha tad manah eva dsa). This Mind being developed wished to 
become manifested, more revealed, more embodied. It sought after 
itself, tad dtmdnam anvaichchhat ; it practised tapas, tat tapo atapyata 
• . . [and the Universe was apparently the product of this 

Mind.]/’ 

From this rather agnostic attitude which said that there 
was neither entity nor non-entity in the beginning, we come to a 
phase of thought somewhat akin to what is known in modern times as 
Realism. 

Man, in his primitive stage of culture, endeavoured to solve the 
problem of the Universe by the knowledge which he had acquired by 
means of sense-experience ; and he would naturally call that real 
(sat) of which he could have sense -perception, and he would call all 
else asat of which he could have no such perception. 

But he, surely, would not mean an absolute void by the word asat. 
His innate sense of the principle of causality would naturally suggest 
to him the idea of an invisible cause to every thing he saw coming 
into being. 

At such an early stage of thought, the word sat would naturally 
denote, what we are now accustomed to call, empirical reality, and 
the source from which this sat arose would be called asat . 

Accordingly, we find passages to the effect that in the beginning 
was asat and from asat arose sat. Thus, in Rig Veda, 2 “ In the earlies t 
ages of the gods, sat sprang from asat.” 

& «£ 

* 

Devdndm pdrvyi yugS 
%ta” 

^ [^Rt |n 3KR: j 

f % i rr ft *ra.*PTt 




1 X, 5, 3, 1 ; quoted and commented ^ I cT? 

on in 5 Muir’s Sanskrit Texts, p. 358 : — . g ^ 

artfk i jt * n 3 ntfni! x> 72 ._< 

*PT: ^ I asatah sad ajdyc 



CHAP. XI.] 


SAT- AS AT (BEING AND NOT-BEING). 


189 


In the Taittiriya Brahmana , 1 it is said that “this Universe was not 
originally any thing. There was neither heaven nor earth nor atmos- 
phere. That being non-existent resolved, ‘ Let me become.’ ” 

There are similar passages to be found in the Taittiriya Upanishad 2 
and Chhandogya Upanishad . 3 

This empirical reality was sometimes called satyam (truth), in 
which case, the Eternal and Absolute Reality — whether known as 
A pa, or Prana, or Vishva Karman, or Prajdpati or H iranyagarbha , 
or Atman or Brahma was called the truth of truths (Satyasya 
Satyaym). 

What is named asat in the above passages is not, strictly speaking, 
a non-existent entity or an absolute void, but it is as if it were asat — 
(asadiva). 

Not-Being is Being itself prior to its manifestation ; when It is 
differentiated by Name and Form ( namarflpa ) it is called sat Brahma 
is thus asat in a secondary sense . 5 It is the invisible cause or source 
of the manifested Universe which technically is named This 
(idam). 

This {idam) is none other than sat itself differentiated by Name and 
Form . 6 The whole of this Universe is, therefore, in reality Brahma 
itself . 7 ( Sarvam khalu idam Brahma ). 

And there being an essential identity of Cause and Effects that is, 
of Brahma and the Universe which proceeds from, It, Thou art that 


1 II, 2, 9 

a II, 7, 1 : — “ In the beginning there 
was asat alone ; from it sprang Sat” 

[ are^ST are A3, 

sqstreiT I ] 

* III, 19, 1 : — “ In the beginning 

this [Brahma] was non-existent. It 
became existent, it grew.” Max Miiller, 
in a note, explains the word “ Non-exist- 
ent ” as not yet existing, not yet deve- 
loped in form and name, and therefore 
as if not existing. The original text is 
as follows : — 


4 See Brihad. Up. II, 1, 20. 

6 Shankar’s Gloss on Ved. Sutr. I, 
4, 15; S. B. E. Vol. 34, p. 267 

“ We have therefore to conclude 
that, while the term Sat ordinarily 
denotes that which is differentiated 
by name and form, the term Asat 
denotes the same substance pre- 
vious to its differentiation, t.e., that 
Brahman is, in a secondary sense of 
the word, called Asat, previously to 
the origination of the world.” 

6 Shankar’s Gloss on Ch&nd. Up. VI 

2 , 2 . 

7 Ch&nd. Up. Ill, 14, 1. 

8 Ved. Sutr. II, 1, 14, and see 

Shankar’s Gloss on it. 



190 


SAT-ASAT (BEING AND NOT-BEING). [CHAP. XI. 

Universe itself 1 . He attains to Brahmahood who sees all this to be 
dtmd and dtmd alone 2 . 

We see here an advanced stage of Indian thought. It indicates 
a transition from Realism to Idealism — due to a consciousness of the 
fleeting and ephemeral character of the world, and of every thing con- 
tained in it, and of its being dependent, for its existence, on the Eternal 
and unchanging Reality of the Supreme Principle or Being, which 
pervades all that exists. All is Brahma and nothing, beside it or 
apart from it, is. 

The CMndogya Upanishad 3 seems to have been, according to Dr. 
Muir, the first development of the idea that the Supreme Principle 
or Being is sat, for from asat nothing could arise, ex nihilo nihi l 
fit. 

“ In the beginning, my dear, there was pure Sat alone , One without 
a Second. Some say that in the beginning there was asat alone, one 
without a second, and from that asat the sat was bom. But how can sat 
be bom of asat ? The truth is that sat alone was in the beginning.” 
And Shankar adds that it would be absurd to consider the asat to be 
an absolute non-entity, for if it were such a non-entity, what would 
be the meaning of the expression that it is ‘one without a second,’ and 
that from it was born the sat ? 

See, also, the Bhagvat Gita 4 which says that that which is not can 
never come into existence, while that which is can never cease to 
exist. 

The word sat now came to signify the Absolute Reality— by whatever 
name that Reality was otherwise called — as opposed to the fleeting 


1 Kaush. Up. I, 6 : — “ Sarvam idam 
8arvam asi.” 

Cf. Chand. Up. VI, 9, 4 “ In it all 

that exists has its self. It is the True. 
It is the Self, and thou art it.” 

[ IpTOTHj 3$ 33. TTC3 3 3TP»TT 33 . 

2 Shankar’s Gloss on Bhag. Git. 
XIII, 30 : — “ he who sees All This to be 
the dtman alone, becomes Brahma itself.” 

* VI, 2 ; See the 1st half of this text 
quoted in Note 5, p. 187 supra. The 
latter half runs as follows : — 


* $<T ; 3 IsTf §T«T 73 3TT3. fT3 ? 33^ 
3!V 3T33= 33.3TC7TT *T3 I S3. 3 33 

Vi 3Trcft3.tr* 73 

“But how could it be thus, my 
dear ?’ the father continued. * How 
could Bat be bom of Asat.' ‘ No, my 
dear, only Sat was in the beginning, 
one only without a second.’ ’ * See 
the whule of VI. 2, in this connexion. 

4 ii. id ‘ Trcmt forc* httt tiw! 
S3-' 



CHAP. XI.] 


SAT- A 8 AT (BEING AND NOT-BEING). 


191 


and ephemeral Universe, which having no independent reality of its 
own, came to be called asat 1 (unreal). 

But since there is no object in the Universe in which the sat is nor, 
present, the entire Universe is known as constituted by the synthesis, 
combination or conjunction of sat and asat 2 , (chit-jada-granthi) . 

Brahma itself is sat-asat ( sadasat ) in this view of the matter. “ Both 
sat and asat exist within God.” 3 * 

It must also be remembered that while Brahma embraces within 
it both the sat and asat , it is beyond them likewise. “ The Purusha , 
having compassed the earth on every side, stands ten fingers’ breadth 
beyond”*; “ 0 Thou, Mahatman ! Thou art that which is and that 
which is not and that which is beyond them.” 5 

It is thus both Immanent and Transcendent ; this is suggestive 
of the Panentheism of Krause and Baader. 

In other words, while the Universe is bounded by that portion of 
Brahma , so to speak, on which it is manifested, Brahma itself is bounded 
nowhere. It may be likened to a circle which has its centre every- 
where, and circumference nowhere. 

To sum up, then, in the initial stages of philosophic thought in 
India, sat meant the visible Universe; and asat meant its invisible cause 
or source ; this was called asat , not because it was non-existent, in 
fact, but because it was non-existent, as it were ( asadiva ). The idam 
(visible Universe) was called sat or, sometimes, satyam, in which 
latter case, the highest Reality — the root of all sensible existence, was 
called satyasya satyam , the truth of truths. 

In later stages, sat meant the Eternal and Absolute Reality, by 
whatever other name called, while asat meant the unreal manifesta- 
tions of that Reality upon Itself — unreal, because not independent 


1 See Taitt. Up. II, 6: — “ He wished, 
may I be many, may I grow forth. He 

brooded over himself. After He had 
^thua brooded, He sent forth all whatever 
'there is. Having sent forth, He entered 
into it. Having entered it, He became 
Sat (what is manifest) and Tyat (what 

is not manifest) The 

Saitya (true) became All This whatso- 
ever and therefore the wise call it ( Brah- 

man ) | Saitya (the true).” 


3 See also Bhag. Git, XIII, 27. 

8 Atharva Veda. X, 7 — 10. 

Cf. Bhag. Git. IX, 19 : — “ Immorta- 
lity and also death, Sat and Asat am 

1, Arjuna.” See also the same idea 
in Prasn. Up. II, 6 ; Mundak. Up. II, 

2, 1 ; Swet. Up. V, 1 ; Taitt. Up. II, 6. 

4 Purusha Sukta quoted supra p. 184. 
8 Bhag. Git. XI, 37 ; XIII, 13. 



192 SAT- ASAT (BEING AND NOT-BEING). [CHAP. XI. 

of or apart from that Reality ; unreal, also, because transient and 
ephemeral and even illusory. 

This has been the meaning of sat and asat ever since ; and in this 
sense alone the words Being and, Not-Being would be their proper 
English equivalents. The first denotes the Reality and the other the 
unreal appearances on that Reality. Philosophically {paramdrthatah), 
Brahma alone is sat f and all else, viewed as differentiated from it and 
as having an independent existence, is asat (unreal). 

We must always remember that, situated as we ordinarily are, wd 
cannot perceive the sat or the asat by itself. Every objective exist- 
ence has these two elements invariably and inseparably present to- 
gether. There is always this synthesis. The asat in this presentation 
cannot have any reality of its own, independent of and apart from the 
sat: 

It is in this sense that this Universe is unreal (mithya), and not in the 
sense of its being a positive blank or void. We predicate its reality, 
but we do so from a vy&vah&ric or practical point of view. 

Some German Orientalists 1 consider this to be a compromise effect- 
ed between the philosophic Idealism of the Ved&nta and the Em- 
pirical Realism of the popular mind. Idealism, they say, has, by 
accommodation to the empirical consciousness, regarded the Uni- 
verse as real and passed over to the pantheistic doctrine of the Upa- 
nishads. 

It is unnecessary here to discuss at length the question whether 
this “ accommodation to the empirical consciousness ” was a proper 
step to take. As stated 2 previously, it is quite clear that as the Uni- 
verse presses itself on our attention as an apparently external object- 
ive existence, it was natural to attempt an explanation of it, which 
might be acceptable. Man has made such attempts in every age 
and every clime. In India, various explanations, perhaps more or 
less metaphorical, have been given since the Vedic times. But the 
idealistic philosopher understands that none of those explanations 
can, in strictness, be philosophically true. The Universe itself being 
non-eternal and having no independent relaity of its own, any expla- 
nation about it must be philosophically untrue. All that we can, 


1 4. g, Deuasen. 


a See supra Chap. III. 



CHAP. XI.] 


SAT-ASAT (BEING AND NOT-BEING). 


193 


with our limited intelligence, predicate of it is that it is a phenomenal 
reality or a reality of appearance — an inexplicable manifestation of 
Brahma on Brahma Itself, possibly for the edification of Man. 

My own submission is that though, from a philosophical standpoint* 
a discussion about the Universe and all that it contains may be un- 
necessary and irrelevant, — though in the strict Vedanta sense it is 
simply avidyd — still it has its uses for our limited aims and ends. The 
Shdstrds , dealing with what is technically called avidyd , are not with- 
out their use to those who are still in this world of Nescience/ 

We cannot forget that we must begin with sense-experience to be 
able eventually to acquire spiritual knowledge. We must pass through 
what is called avidyd as a preparation lor acquiring what is called 
the highest spiritual knowledge (pard vidya). We cannot reach the 
advaita standpoint except through dvaita (duality). 

No man can ordinarily hope to enter what may be termed the spi- 
ritual sphere, without a proper preparation on the lower planes. No 
man can have any idea of the Supreme Principle or Being unless he 
believes, in his initial stages of development, that the Universe is a 
reality, and that the Supreme Principle is immanent in it and trans- 
cendent also ; he cannot sufficiently realize the idea of Unity and 
Identity with that Principle, except through bhakli (devotion), which 
presupposes the dualism of God and His bhakta (devotee). He cannot 
understand his duties to himself and others and practise Altruism on 
the principle of abheda , except as one moving in the world of sense- 
experience and forming a member of ‘a universal family’ (vasudhaiva 
kutumbakam). 

Ethics is necessary to a right comprehension and exercise of all 
these duties, without which man can never be fit for realising his 
own spiritual identity with the Eternal Reality. Pantheism or rather 
Panentheism, Bhakti , Ethics — all these presuppose the phenomenal 
reality of the Universe and of all the individual existences therein. 

It is by a preparation of the kind above indicated that one is enabled 
to understand correctly the distinction between Subject and Object, 
and to attach to each its proper function and importance. It pre- 

1 Cf. Shankar’s Gloss on Bhag. Git. lation, pp. 227-8. 

XIII, 2, Mahadeva Shastri’s Trans- 





194 


SAT-ASAT (BEING AND NOT-BEINC*) 


[CHAP. XI. 


vents the confusion that generally arises from predicating what is 
phenomenal or objective of what is real and subjective, and vice versa . 
Prof. Max Muller 1 rightly observes : — 

“I should even go so far as to say that this warning might be taken 
to heart by our own philosophers also, for many of our fallacies arise 
from the same avidya and are due in the end to the attribution of 
phenomenal and objective qualities to the subjective realities, which 
we should recognise in the Divine only and as underlying the Human 
Self and the phenomenal world.” 

The Indian Veddnta was, therefore, right in not severing the pheno- 
menal reality of the Universe from the Absolute Reality, Brahma y 
and ignoring its practical importance. If it had thus severed and 
altogether ignored it, it would have meant, says the author of the 
Veddnta Paribhdshd 2 , that the Universe was somewhere and not in 
Brahma , and Brahma would thus have lost its Immanence and Infi- 
nitude. The correct position, even according to the strictest Ad- 
vaitin , is that the Universe has no reality independent of and apart 
from Brahma . 

If this is a compromise between philosophic Idealism and empirical 
Realism, it, surely, is not a compromise which a philosopher should 
condemn. 

If this is a fault, the Eleatic philosophers of Greece were, likewise, 
guilty of it . 3 Xenophanes, Parmenides, Zeno — all held views almost 
like those of the Veddntins. They did not say that there is no sen- 
sible world, but maintained that there is but One Being, though to the 
uncultured that One appears as a plurality — the changeless appearing 
as becoming and changeable. They, too, like the Veddntins , held 
that All is One and nothing independent of it exists. 

1 “ Six Systems Ind. Phil.,” p. 201. 8 See Weber’s ‘Hist. Phil.,’ pp. 41 

» See “ Pandit,” Vol. 7, p. 386. and 43 - 


Printed by E. G. Pearson, at The Times Press, Bombay, and published by 
M. R. Jayakar, Bombay.— 14 12 ’21. 



INDEX. 

(The Reference is to Images.) 

A 


ABHEDA, 

„ meaning of 

„ teaches that man must live for others . . 

„ ideal of, useful to progress 

„ principle of, underlies all duties 

ABSOLUTE, THE, 

, , as the negation of negations 

,, and its manifestations 

„ ideal world a necessity for the existence of 

,, according to Dr. Calderwood 

„ existence, only one, according to Ferrier 

, , meaning of . . . . . . . . 

„ knowledge, meaning of 

,, Being, need not undergo process of externalization to 

become Self-conscious . . 

,, must be self-conscious 

,, not affected by removal of external relations 

,, cognition of, according to Veddnta is twofold 

,, ideals of, useful to progress 

ACQUINAS, THOMAS, 


9f ,9 on Emanation 

adhyAropApavAda 

ADITI 

ALTRUISM, 


,, emphasised in Veddnta 

„ and egoism, no antagonism between, when 

ANANDA LAHARI 

anAtman, 

„ not Being or becoming 

ANAXAGORAS .. - 


Pagb 

112.114 

114. 115 
139 
146 


. 22 
43 

53 

54 
53 
59 

59,60 

62, 63 
62 
63 
63 
139 

37 

71, 175 
1»3 


112 

145-146 

4$ 


12 

40 



ii 


ANESAKI, Prof., 

», on the ideal about duty 

ANIMISM 

ANNIHILATION, 

>, of self not involved in Tat-twam-asi 

ARISTOTLE, 

„ on the Absolute, as unmoved yet moving 

ASAT, 

„ meaning of, in Vedantic terminology 
ASCETICISM, 

„ Indian 

ASHWATTHA, 

,, tree . . 

ATHARVA VEDA 

ATMA BODHA 

ATMAN, (See Brahma) 

„ as connecting link between God, man and Nature 

,, as highest truth reached by Advaita 

,, in Relation to time 

AUGUSTINE, St 

* „ conception of God 

avidyA, 

as Being explaining Becoming . . 

is neither Sat nor Asat 

meaning of, in Veddnta 

definition of, in Nydya System 
properties of, as objective power 
Vedantic sense of . . 


B 

BALLANTYNE, Dr. 

„ conception of the Supreme 

„ refutation of charge that Veddnta is antithetic pan- 
theism 

BARNETT, 

,, on gospel of Gita 

BECOMING, (See Being and not Being) 

„ identity between Being and beooming 


Pxaa 

146 

99 

78 

39 

89 

132-149 

161, 162 
191 
92 

48 

62 

62 

172 

29 

10 
178 
81, 174 
176 
176 
178 


27, 41 
101 

126 

12 



iii 

Pa.«i 

BEING 18 

,, and knowing . . ... . . 24, 61-73 


BEING and Not BEING, 


,, Hegel on 


... 

. . 

9 

,, known to Indian Philosophy 

. . 


.. 10,11,12 

,, inseparably united 

•• 

• • 

12 

BERKELEY, Bishop, 

,, on the visible world 



57, 87 

BESANT, Mrs. Annie, 

,, ,, Karina . . 



130 

BHAGAVAT GITA, 

)* 

11, 16 

, , 

. . 

. . 12, 61, 190 

»» 

II, 37-38 



122 

» i 

II, 47 


. . 

144 


II, 48, 60 


. . 

114,136 

tf 

11,51 


. . 

114 

ft 

11,54-71 



129 


II, 60, 64 

, , 


126 


III, 4, 5, 8, 9, 19, 20, 25 


. . 

122 


III, 4-7, 37-39 

. . 

. . 

126 

it 

III, 5 

. . 


96, 144 


Ill, 7, 9, 19, 30 


. . 

114 

»> 

III, 10 



113 


III, 17-21,22-24 

. . 

. . 

138 


III, 19, 30 . . 

. . 

. . 

114 

»> 

Ill, 26 

. • 

. . 

142 


III, 37, 39 . . 


. . 

126 


IV, 11 



169 

»» 

V, 3-11, 19-26 



114 


V, 4-5 

. . 

— 

... 16 


V, 15 


. . 

46, 81, 181, 187 


V, 25 


. . 

122 


VI, 5-6 



127 

ft 

VI, 16-17 


. . 

134 

M 

VI, 21-27 

. , 

. . 

114 

19 

VI, 30-33 


. . 

22, 139 

99 

VII, 


. . 

139 

tf 

VII, 7 .. 

. . 

. . 

38, 113 

Zt 

VTI, 21 


. . 

169 

ft 

IX, 4 

• • 

• • 

15 

>9 

IX, 19 


•«« 

10,191 

>> 

» 

IX, 23 

•• 

•• 

169 



(BHAGAVAT GITA 

M 

— continued) 

IX, 27-28 

IV 



Pag* a 

114 

>> 

X 



, , 

101 

99 

X, 39 .. 



. . 

113 

99 

X, 42 .. 


. , 

. . 

104 

»» 

XI, 37 

. . . . 

, . 

. • 

191 

99 

XI, 55 

. . . . 



122 

99 

XII . . 



• , 

124 


XII, 4, 16 . . 



. . 

122 

99 

XII, 13-20 . . 

, . 


. . 

114 

99 

XII, 18 



. . 

. . ' 122 

99 

XIII, 2 

• • . . 


. . 

193 

ft 

XIII, 8, 9 . . 


. . 

. . 

.122 

99 

XIII, 10 



. . 

124 

99 

XIII, 11-34 .. 



. . 

121 

99 

XIII, 12 

. , , , 

. . 

, . 

19 

9t 

XIII, 13 

. . . . 


. . 

191 

99 

XIII, 13-17 .. 

* . 


. . 

22 

99 

XIII, 14 

. . 


. . 

91 

9t 

XIII, 16, 17 .. 

• • • • 


, , 

46 

99 

XIII, 26 

. . . , 


, . 

12 

99 

XIII, 27, 30-33 


. . 

. . 

22, 62, 190, 191 

99 

XIV, 2 



. . 

17 

99 

XIV, 3 



. . 

40 

97 

XV, 1-3 

. . 


. . 

162 

99 

XV, 4, 6 



. . 

137 

99 

XV, 7 . . 


. . 


113 

9 9 

XVII, 5-6, 14-16 


. . 

. . 

133 

99 

XVIII, 7, 9-11 

. . 


. . 

136 

99 

XVIII, 20, 21 



. , 

101 

99 

XVIII, 23 

. . 


. . 

114 

99 

XVIII, 45 . . 



. . 

122 

99 

XVIII, 48 . . 



. , 

177, 178 

99 

XVIII, 50-51 



. . 

52 

99 

XVIII, 61 . . 


. . 

. . 

113 

99 

XVIII, 66 . . 

. . 

. . 

. . 

177, 179 

9 9 

best exponent of practical aspect of Veddnta 

140 

99 

Ethics of 

» • 



118 

99 

tribute to, by Edwin Arnold 



116 

99 

whether anterior to Christian Era 



117 

99 

by Lassen 




116 

99 

by Annie Besant 

• • . . 



117 

99 

gospel of, according to Barnett 



125 

BHAKTI, 

,i premal 





.. 121 

,, necessity of 

.. 

. . 


193 



V 


BHANU, Prof., Pagi 

„ Bhagwat Gita 60, 80 

BIBLE, the .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 101 

,, New Testament, Rev. Ill, 12 97 

„ Matt., XVI, 24, and Luke, XIV, 26 127 

„ Psalms, oxxxix, 7-10 100 

BOSE, Dr 50 

BRAHMA, 


>* 
*» 
ft 
tt 
tr 
tt 
tt 
tt 
tt 
tt 
tt 
M 
• J 
tt 
tt 
: t 

it 

tt 

tt 

tt 

it 

it 

tt 

tt 

tt 

91 

tt 

tt 

it 

it 

ft 

tt 

tt 

tl 


Vedantic conception of 14, 16, 30, 31, 32 

NirgKna 15 

RAmdnuja’s view of 16, 17 

Shankar’s view of . . . . . . . . . . . . 16-18 

Madhr&charya’s view of . . . . . , . . f , 16 

Vallabh&charya’s view of . . , . . . . , . . 16 

Absolute Existence and Absolute Intelligence in . . . . 26, 32, 64 

As isolated and independent substantiality 26 

As Prill# of all manifestations 26, 36, 42 

Not false and empty abstraction 27, 32 

As Neti Neli 28, 32 

Concept of, in Mundaka Upanishad 30 

Metaphysical Reality, fundamental basis of all experience. 32 

Its relations to plurality . . 70 

How to become . . . . . . . . . . . , 77 

Real conception of Vcdantin as to 102 

Logical consistency in Hindu Conception of . . . . 104 

Beyond “ pair of opposites ” 105 

According to Prof. James 32 

the Absolute, according to Schelling . . . . . . 35 

Origin of the World from 35 

and Emanation . . ... . • 36 

becoming many . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 

As Nirvikdra . . . . 39 

or the Absolute, according to Aristotle 39 

as ultimate reality i t • • » • 2, 12 

as all-pervading •»« »* ♦« *» 2 

as transcendant • i M rt • • 2 

as all-intelligence 2 

As all-Bliss ... ~ .« 2 

constitutive essence of 2 

as personal God • • ••• • • » • • • 2, 3 

as one becoming many * • « • 2 

Universe bom of • • • • • • 2 


in association with M&yd 


3 



vi 


(BRAHMA, — continued) Pioa 

„ with reference to individual souls . • . . . . . . 3 

,, not author of sin or evil 3 

„ whether empty abstraction . . . . . . . . . . 8 

,, totality of real and unreal . . . 11 

„ SamavAyee and Up Ad Ana K£rana of Universe .. . . 11 

„ as described by Hegel 13 

„ as described by Ed. Caird 13 

BRAHMAN, 

„ as described by Pfleiderer 13 

„ as described by J. Caird 14 

„ as described by VedAntct 14 

BttAHMAtADIN, the 117 

n account of ancient training Institutions of India ... 147 

BRIHADARANYAKA UPANISHAD, 

„ ,, on MAyA 37 

„ „ II 1, 20 189 

„ „ II, 3-6 19 

„ „ 11,5,15 34 

„ „ IV, 3-4 39 

„ „ On Eternal life . . . . 43 

„ „ I, 6, 3 187 

BUCK, Dr., 


Mystic Masonry 


58,97 


OAIRD, 

»> 

99 


99 


99 


C 


Principal John, 

„ description of Brahma 

„ his conception of God 

„ 4 Philosophy of Religion ’ 

„ Relation of the Self to the Supreme . . 

„ * University sermons * 

„ relation of finite world Infinite 

i , hidden logic of spiritual process 


14 

20 

24, 79, 162, 163 
48 
86 
90 
126 


OAIRD, Dr. Edward, 

„ essence of Christianity according to >. 81 

„ Conception of Supreme Reality 21, 22, 23, 45 

„ Spinoza . . 19 

„ * Evolution of Religion * 21, 130 

„ * Evolution of Greek Theology * . . . . 23, 26, 27, 34, 37, 46, 79 

„ Summum bonum of Hegelianism according to 69 

„ Philosophy * 86 

„ objection to Stoic System . . . . 126 

„ cm identity in differences . . 11 

„ Description of Brahma * 19 



vii 

CALDERWOOD, Dr., P A0B 

,» on The Absolute , . . . . . . . . , 54 

CARLYLE, 

„ on Spirit and Nature 49 

OHAITANYA, 

, ) on ideal of devotional love . . 123 

CHHANDOGYA UPANISHAD, 

» ,, 11,23 70 

>, ,, II, 33 . . . , , . . . . . 92 

» „ HI, 12 11 

,» ,, III, 14, 1 . . . . . • 189 

„ „ 111,19,1 .. .. .. ... 189 

„ „ VI, 2 190 

„ „ VI, 2,1 187 

„ ,, VI, 2 , 2 189 

„ », VI, 2, 3 . . . . . . . . 92 

„ „ VI, 2 , 3, 4 15 

,, „ VI, 8 , 4 31 

„ ,, VI, 9,4 190 

„ „ VII, 17 94 

„ „ VIII, 1,1 94 

CHIT AND JADA, 

,, go hand in hand 43, 191 

CHIT-JADA-GRANTHI m 

CHRISTIANITY, 

,, to understand mystic, one must study Upanishads. . 180 

,, original oneness of human soul with God, accepted 

by German Mystics as fundamental article of 162 

,, esoteric 133 

,, Hegel’s reconciliation of 13 

„ faith, in Christian philosophy 81 

CLAIRVOYANCE, 

,, Scientific explanation of 162 

COGITO ERGO SUM, 

„ ,, of Des Cartes 24 

COLEBROOKE, 

„ on Indian systems of philosophy .... 6 

COWELL, 

„ (jSarva Darshana Sangrdha) - • • 35 



viii 


' D 

dAsA BODHA, Paob 

„ description of M&yd 40, 48 

D’ALVIELLA 130, 171 

DBS CARTE, 

„ Cogito Ergo Sum 24 

„ Conception of Infinite 27 

„ dualism of mind and matter examined 83 


DEUSSEN, Prof., 

„ 4 Philosophy of Upanishads * 33, 38, 39 

,, 4 Metaphysics,* on antithesis of one and many . . . . 46 

„ view of existence of nature . . 86 

DEVIL, 

„ is good 103 

DEVOTIONAL LOVE, 


„ as means of acquiring spiritual knowledge . . 124 

DIONYSIUS, 

„ conception of Absolute Truth by negatives . . . . 28, 129 

DISTINCTIONS, 

„ and relations vanish as process of distinguishing goes 

higher and higher 66 

, DIVINE, 

„ centre, its relation to creation 151 

„ Intelligence, as reason of all things . . 58 

DUTY, 

„ must be performed in spirit of selflessness 146 


DVIVEDI, Prof., 

„ M&ndukya Upanishad 6, 10, 34, 71 

„ *s Translation of Bhagawat Gita 134 

4 DYING TO LIVE ’ 


meaning of 


128 


E 


ECKHART, 

„ conception of God . . 29 

„ theory of Emanation 37 

„ as father of Christian Mysticism 160, 161 

„ ’• teachings resemble Vedanta 161 



ECSTASY, 


ix 


Paob 

170 


„ descriptions of .. 

EGO, 

,, when completely obliterated 5 

fiKSHANA la> 47 

ELEATICS, 

»» on Ultimato Reality 

EMANATION or EVOLUTION, 

» » purely time-conception . . . . 34, 35 

m t> as Brahma in manifestations on itself. 36, 37, 42 

EMERSON, 

„ description of ecstatic vision , 170, 173 

ENIGMA, 

,, the Great 32-50 

ESOTERIC CHRISTIANITY, 

,, ,, conception of Crucifixion in, and tapas 

compared 133 

ETERNAL NOW 33,34 

ETHER, 


„ as radiation of spiritual energy from Divine Centre . . 
ETHICAL ideals, 

,, considered as means and not goal, by Veddnta 
ETHICS, 

,, in relation to philosophy 

„ of Veddnta . . 

,, ,, „ objections to 

„ ,, „ key note to, Abheda 

„ of Bhagawat Gita summed up 

„ of Upanishads _ ~ 

„ necessary to understand and perform duties . . 


151 


110 


111 

111-131 

110 

112 

118 

118 

193 


EVOLUTION, 

„ definition of, according to Spencer 14 

„ according to Veddnta 36 

F 


FAITH 


»> 


of Christian Philosophy 


81 



X 


FERRIER) Prof., 

„ on conception of Brahma 

,, 4 Greek Philosophy * . 

„ on mistake of Ancient Greeks 

,, truths of Western Epistemology and Ontology accord* 
ing to 

FICHTE, 

,, enumeration of Stages of mental development culminating in 

passing into God 

„ *s dialogue between Realist and Idealist 

FINITE (and INFINITE) 

,, apparent dualism of 

FLAMMARION, 

,, analysis of testimony of senses 

„ on five doors of human knowledge 

FLINT, Prof., 

„ * Agnosticism ’ 

„ on Matter and Force 


G 


GATES, Prof., 

,, on Eternal Consciousness 


gaudapAda, 


,, explanation of Universe 

„ on Mdyd . . 

GNOSIS, 

,, of early Christian Fathers 
„ of Veddnta, in relation to Love 

GOO, 


„ conception of, according to Dionysius . . 

1 1 n »» m »» Eckhart . . . 

„ „ „ „ „ St. Augustine 

,, ,, „ ,, ,, Green • • . 

„ personal, of Christians 

„ immanence of, acceptable to Christian Philosophers 


GOKHALE, G. 

„ utterances of . ♦ 

GOSPEL, 

„ discovered in Thibet . • 


Pag* 

24 

20 

51 

53 


72 

85 


‘13 


84 

152 


50, 58 
50 


49 


34 

34 


81 

124 


29 

29 

29 

65 

103 

104 


149 


169 



ai 


GOUGH, PA01 

„ philosophy of Upani*had» 10, 23, S3, 40, 40, 88 

,, on Spirit and Nature . . 49 

H 

HAECKEL, 

„ on matter 49 

HALDANE (Lord), 

“ Pathway to Reality ” . . . . 10, 16, 27, 33, 42, 66, 60, 61, 62, 

63, 66, 66, 67, 86 

on “ the why of the process of finitude ” 44 

HAMILTON, Sir William, 

,, on identity of existence in effect and cause . . . . 37 

HARRISON, (Clifford), 

,, “ Notes on the Margins ” .33, 120, 121 

,, on Matter and Spirit 50 

HATHA PRADIPIKA 134 

HEAVENS, 

,, the idea of God sitting high in 76 

HEGEL, 

,, on Vedantic conception of Brahma . . . . . . . . 14, 15 

,, 4 Philosophy of Religion ’ . . . . . . . . . . 14 

,, ’» conception of Infinite . . 15, 27 

,, ’■ conception of No t-Being .. .. ..... .. 42 

,, *s ‘ Philosophy of Religion * 21,25,34 

,, Absolute idealism of . . . . . . . . . . . . 8, 46 

,, Nature according to . . . . 47, 48 

, , ’s vindication of Christian Trinity . . . . . . . . 62 

,, Comparative Summary of Vedantin's views with dialectics of 66 

,, and advaitin r divergence in views of .. 69 

,, ’s * Encyclopaedia ’ . . . . 72 

,, *8 conception of Nature . . . . . . . . . . . . 86 

„ absolute mind, according to . * 2 

,, Hegelian Critics of Veddnta 6 

,, *s view of universe . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 

,, ’a doctrine of Unity in variety 8 

,, *s idea of empty abstraction .. 9 

„ ’« 44 Logic ” 9,10 

,, ’s idea of ultimate reality 0 

,, on Being and Becoming 9 

,, *s 4 Lectures on Philosophy of Religion * 10 

„ ’s description of Brahma . . ' • • 13 

,, *s Reconciliation of Christianity .. 13 

„ Infinite returning upon itself .. 13 



HEINE, 

„ on Kant’s Critique 
HERACLITUS, 

„ doctrine of flux and motion 

„ Being and not Being 

,, in agreement with Ved&nta 

HERBERT SPENCER (See Spencer) 

„ “ First Principles” 

„ *s Great Unknowable 

“ Psychology ” . . 

HINDUISM, 

,, strength of 
HINDU SYSTEM, 

„ did not enjoin mortification of flesh 

HIRANYA-GARBHA 

HUDSON, 

„ Philosophy of H. Spencer 

„ Scientific Demonstration of Future State 

„ Divine Pedigree of Man 

HUXLEY, 

,, on Matter and Force . . 

I 


Pag* 

14 


11 

12 
01 

14, 19, 26, 27^ 30 

21 

54, 55 

106 

132 

99 

14 

55 

152 


49 


IMMANENCE (AND TRANSCENDENCE OF GOD), 

,, how acceptable to Christian Philosophers. . 

IMMORTAL, the, 

,, veiled by (empirical) reality 

INDIAN ASCETICISM 

„ misconception about 

„ tapas , what it connotes . . 

INDIAN ETHICAL IDEAL, 

,, „ objections to, 

(1) that it is too unpractical 

(2) that it knows not Divine Love 

(3) that it leads to things earthly 

INDIAN THOUGHT 

INDRA 

INFINITE, 

„ returning upon itself . . 

„ not foreign to Vedanta 


104 

187 

132-149 

132 

132 


119 

121 

125 

177 

187 

15 

15 



xiii 


INGE, Prof., Paqb 

„ Light, Life and Love 29 

„ *s distinction of Christian doctrine of Unity and Indian doctrine, 

criticised .... 82 

,, *s description of ecstasy or vision 170 

INTELLIGENCE (DIVINE), 

,, as life and reason of all things 68 

INTUITIVE FACULTY, 


prized more by Veddnta than by Western philo- 
sophers . . 


82 


ISHA UPANISHAD . . 64, 113, 180 


JAMES, Prof., 

, , conception of Brahma 

,, fruits of religious experience 

,, * varieties of Religious experience’ 

JANAKA 

J1VAN MUKTA, 


32 

120 

.. 163, 163, 164, 166, 168 

U7 


,, what is . . . . 06 

jiVAN MUKTI VIVEKA 121, 129, 131 


does not mention mortification of flesh as 
duty of Sanyiyfoin -134 

JIVAS (individual souls) . . . • • • • • • • * • • * 

JONES, Sir William, 

,, On Indian philosophy 1 

K 


KANT, 

Critique of pure reason 

,, Critique of practical reason 

„ Matter and form 

„ On Spirit and Nature 

’s view that geometrical properties aro seen to be unreal by in- 
finite intelligence 


U 

U 

36 

49 

57 


KARMA, 

,, includes both thought and deed 

,, prdrabdha 

,, Sanchita 

„ effects of 

,, meaning of ceasing, for the perfect 

, division of humanity according to 


3 

3 

3 

4 

137 138 
144 



X IT 


Piai 

kArya kArana ABHEDA 37 

KATHA-UPANISHAD 138, 162, 179, 180 

.. ,, IH, U 70, 138 

KAUSHtXAKI UPANISHAD 190 

KENA UPANISHAD 62, 179, 180 

KINGSLEY, Revd. Charles 158 

,, admission about Indian dootrine of Unity . . . . 82 

,, quotation from, applicable to Vtd&rUa 139 

,, opinion about mystics 165 

KIRKMAN, 

,, ridicule of H. Spencer’s philosophy . . . . . . . . 14 

KNOWING AND BEING .. 51-73 

KNOWING, 

,, a thing is becoming it; meaning of 58 

KNOWLEDGE, 

,, theory of, based on sense -perception, how far correct . 53 

„ according to Hudson 55 

,, what is absolute . . . . . . 50-60 

,, as it is ordinarily called, is Avidyd . . . . . . 180 

KSHETRA KSHETRAJNA, 

,, ,, union of Spirit and Non -Spirit . . . . 12 


L 


LADDER, 

„ analogy of, to illustrate various stages towards spiritual 


progress 142 

LAKSHMJ TANTRA 42 

LAMPE, 

Servant of Kant 14 

LEADBEATER, C. W., 

„ Clairvoyanoe 33 

LEIBNITZ, 


„ on Spirit and Nature . . — , 49 

LIDDON, 

„ idea of God of Pantheist . . 103 

„ opinion on Pantheism • • ••• •• •• • • 105 



XV 


LILLY, W. 8 ., Pa*i 

„ 44 Enigma” 14 

,, on development of Self 43 

,, on Spirit and Matter 49 

,, 4 4 European History” 161,1(37 

LOGIC, 


,, ordinary, incompetent for philosophical religious knowledge . . 164, 165 

LOGOS, 

,, conception of . . 34 

LOKASANGRAHA, 

„ idea of 142 

M 

madhwAchAiiya, 


,, dualisti . system of VtdAnta . . . . . . 16 

MAHABHARATA. 

contains great teachings founded on Vtd&nl* . . 140 

,, Sh&nti Parva 109 

,, description of Indian Sage .. .. .. .. 129,134 

MA1TRAYANI UPANISHAD, 

,, on Mdyd 37 


MAN, 

,, endowed with divine potentialities 

,, Divine Pedigree of . . 


151 

152 


MANAS, 


,, what is 

mAnDUKYA UPANISHAD, 


»» 






60, 179 

Introduction 

.. 34,60,71 

on One becoming Many . . 

44 

on Seif as related to Supreme . . 

48 

I, 7 

10, U 

11,2 

10 

11,32, 33 

. . 22, 67, 92 

Ill, 10 

. . 176, 177 

Ill, 15 

11, 35, 65, 94 

in, 18 

16 

IV, 22, 

67 

IV, 38 

64 

IV, 88 * •• 

61 



XTi 


Pass 

MANU SMRITI . . * 109, 113 

mArkandeya purAna 134 

MAX MllLLER, Prof., 

,, notion of Avidyd * 118 

„ Conception of Infinite . . . . 27 

,, * Natural Religion 1 27, 28 

,, 4 Origin and growth of Religion * 28 

,, 4 Six systems of Indian Philosophy’ 35 

„ 4 Theosophy ’ 35, 36, 37, 77, 162, 165 

„ conception of Self . . . . 52 

„ on Indian Philosophy . . . . . . . . . . 6, 7 

mAyA, 

„ in association with Brahman . . . . . . . . . . 3 

,, as Being explaining Becoming 10 

,, as inseparable from Brahma . . . . 15 

,, cause of Universe . . 18, 35 

,, inscrutable power of Eternal Being . . 34, 39, 42, 45 

„ according to Gaudapada and Shankara 34, 39, 40 

„ ,, ,, Ramdas . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 

„ in philosophy of Advaila Veddnta 37 

,, as Intelligence according to Rig Veda . . . . . . . . 37, 39 

,, according to Spinoza . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 

,, Compared to Nous of Anaxagoras and Plotinus . . . . . . 40 

,, Compared to the Logos or emanation in Gospel . . . . . . 40 

Compared to Logos or Second person of St. Paul . . . . 40 

,, Neither Sat nor Asat 40 

,, cause of phenomenal world . . . . . . . . . . 41 

,, as Cosmic nescience ( Avidyd ) .. .. . . .. . . 41 

,, possessing two powers, Avarana (enveloping) and ViJcshepa 

(projecting) 41 

„ threefold aspect of according to Veddnta 41 

,, the Not-Being of the Absolute, according to Hegel . . . . 42 

s> Avidyd likened to 177 

,, germ of doctrine of, contained in Ndsadtya Sdkta 38, 187 


MIND, 

r 

,, distinguished from Manas . . ... 60 

,, cause of differentiation and antithesis . . . . . , . ... 65 

„ in relation to the Divine Centre . . i . - . . ... 151 

MITHYA (illusory), 

meaning of World being, according to Indian Advaitin ... 88 



MONISTIC, 


Pag* 

184 


xvii 


», conception in Vedic times 
MORTIFICATION OF FLESH, 

„ condemned in Gita 133 

11 does not enter into idea of Sannydsa . . 134 

MOSES AND THE SHEPHERD, 

„ Story of 143 

MUIR, 

„ *s Sanskrit Texts 183, 184, 180, 188 

mOndaka upanishad, 

„ 1, 1, 4-5 171, 176 

,, I, 1 ,7 (concept of Brahma) .. .. 30 

„ II, 2, 1 191 

MYSTICISM 160-173 

,, protected from unholy curiosity .. 160 

,, history of European, is history of Martyrdom . . . . 160 

„ involved in realization of ideal of Tat-twam-asi , how far 

correct 150 

„ labelled as being beyond ordinary human conception . . 105 

„ no mystery in teachings of 160 

,, what is 150 

,, in modem Europe, due to Neo -Platonism and Indian 

and Persian influences . . 157 

„ not life of Quietism . . . . . , . . . . . . 165 

,, in essence, a scientific faith . . 158 

,, notable features of . . 158 

„ Modem European views of 170, 171 

„ Christianity in Spirit is 160 

„ reasons why Christendom denounced 104 

„ reasons why does not find favour in Europe . . . . 164, 167 


MYSTIC, 

,, experiences tend to establish advaxtism 157 

„ reaction in the West .. . . 171 

MYSTICS, 

„ experiences of, of impersonal Character 168, 109 

f , experiences spiritual of, not possible to be described in intelli* - 

gible language 172 

N 

NASADlYA SCKTA 38,184, 18ft 

,, contains germ of dootrine of Mdyd 38. 187 



xviii 


NATION, 

„ effect on, if Abheda principle rightly perceived 
NATURE, 

,, according to Hegel 

„ in relation to God, according to Hegel . . 

,, only a cerebral phenomenon 
,, relation of, to true Reality « 

NECESSARY TRUTH, 

„ ,, what is 

NESCIENCE, 

„ knowledge enveloped by 

,, how veil of, could be removed 

„ meaning of 

„ is Avidyd 

NETI NETI, 

„ Affirmation of Absolute Truth by negative 

NIYRITTI and PRAVRITTI 

„ Vedantic conception of 

,, danger of ignoring distinction between 

NOIRE M M Ml M • • • • 

„ On doctrine of Personal God in Christianity 
„ On Mysticism 

NOT BEING 

„ is Being itself prior to manifestation • . 


o 

OBJECT WORLD, 

„ in relation to mind 

ONE, 

„ becoming many ... 

„ ,, „ on inexplicable mystery .. 

l, „ „ antithesis of, according to Denssen 

p 


PANCHA DASI, 

,, III, 29*33 ••• 

,, III, 40 m it 

PANCHA X08HA (five sheaths) 


Page 

146 

47 

63 

84 

88, 181, 182 

53 

56 

66,71 

81 

174-182 

28 

63 

66 

136, 137 

65, 164 

106 

171 

18 

189 


64 


35,44 

45 

40 


93 

80 

49 



PANTHEISM, 


History of 

advantages of 

Hindu ethical ideal consistent with . 
and VeddrUa .. ... 

What is 

outcome of discoveries of Modem Scienoe 
and Christian doctrine 


PARAMA-HANSA, 


the path of 


parA vtDyA, 


what is 


PATANJALI, 


- 37 

- 105 
108 

98-110 

98-100 

100 

100 , 101, 102 
134, 136, 138 
171, 176 
.. 11,35,153 


PAUL, St., 

,, on Abstract Principle manifested in Christ . . *. 3 40 

PFLEIDERER, Prof* *. . . * * . * rf , , . , 40 

,, on the Abstract Principle .. * 23,31 

„ description of Brahma 13 

„ absurdity of Criticism on Veddnla, by 78,79 

„ on patheism 103 

„ on contrast of Kingdom of God and Kingdom of this 

world 137 

PHILOSOPHY, 

„ duty of 106 

„ is not religion, what is meant by 107 

PLATO, 

,, and neo-platonism 19 

,, conception of World Soul 34, 99 

„ Man and ideas 55 

PLOTINUS 40 

,, description of ecstatic condition 170 

prapAkara, 

,, dootrineof .. 60,71,80, 181 

PRASNA UPANISHAD 55, 191 

PRAVRITTI and NIYRITTI 63 

,, of VeddrUa, what is 65 

. PSYCHIC, y 

„ Research Society, researches of, importance of . . • • 150, 151 

„ powers, development of • 152« 153 



XX 


Paqb 

PURUSHASOKTA .. ... .. ~ _ 104,113,184,191 

,, emphasises idea of Saorifioe .. 180 


B 

rAmakrishna paramahansa 

rAmAnuja, 

„ monistic school of VishistAdvaita . • 

„ view of Brahma . . . . « 

rAmAyana, 

„ contains pr&otioal teachings based on Veddnta ... 

EAMDAS, 

„ D&sa Bodha 

REALITY, 

,, true, how reached . . . • .. ... .. _ 59 

RELATIVITY, 

„ religious and ethioal truths are of praotioal value to 


man belonging to sphere of . . . . M . . 139 

RELIGION, 

„ as understood in higher sense .. .* p. _ 106 

„ no conflict between philosophy and .. 106 

RETIREMENT, 

,, into Bolitude, when recommended 136 

„ achievement bj, of Sages .. 136 

„ premature, condemned 136 

REVELATION, 

„ Personal, dogmas of, not required to be justified by 

Indian Advaita ... ... _ .. . . 61 

RIG- VEDA, 

,, 1, 89, 10 183 

„ 1, 164 183 

„ 111,55 183 

„ IV, 40, 6 185 

„ VI, 47, 18 187 

„ X, 5, 3, 1 188 

„ X, 72 188 

#f X, 82 185 

„ . X,90 ~ 184 

„ X, 129 . . .. 38,184 

X, 129, 2 . . •« .. *. .. •« * • 19 


120 

16 
16, 19 

140 

40, 48, 175 



XXI 


RIPON, Bishop of, Pag* 

„ on crucifixion of self in man .. ... 123 

ROER, Dr 186 

,, on Indian philosophy 32 

ROTH, Prof., 

„ on Vishwakarman . . 186 

RUYSBROEK 158 

s 

SACRED BOOKS OF THE EAST, 

„ Vol. I 43 

„ Vol. 25 , . . 113 

„ Vol. 34 .. .. 15, 17, 25, 32, 33, 42, 43 

SACRIFICE, 

,, idea of 112 

SAMA VEDA ( Arka Parva) . . ... 109 

SAMSARA, 

„ usefulness of, recognised by Shankara 93 

,, necessary for correct knowledge of Brahma . . . . 11 

„ implying motion and change 2, 11 

SANKHYA KARIKA 40, 72, 81 


SANNYASA, 

,, conception of 

„ of the wise, and of the householder 

SAT 

,, the unchanging substrate in Brahma 

,, what is . . . . 

,, xmtu and thing-in- itself of Kantian system 
„ meaning of, in Vedantio terminology 

SAT-ASAT 

sat-chit-Ananda, 

99 constitutive essence of Brahma 

sattA-fradam 

SCHELLING, 

„ on the Absolute 

99 on life in manifested world . . 

99 on Spirit and Nature 

SCHOPENHAUER, 

99 on Indian philosophy . • • • 

view about nature •• •• 


134 
134, 133 

18 

25 

53 

86 

89 

183, 194 

2 

44 

35 

43 

49 

6 

84 



xxii 


SGH WEGLER, Prof*, 

Pacrn 

tt 

*s History of Philosophy ... ** 

46,47 

SCIENCE, 



M 

in aid of the Mystio 

165 

SCOTUS ERIGENA, 



tt 

illustration of red hot iron 

83 

SELF, 





primary Canon in Code of Reason 

5l 

%$ 

is pratibodha viditam 

62 

SELF-REALIZATION, 



tt 

how achieved according to Advaita 

69 


M 

complete, how far possible ... 

69,70 


tt 

not annihilation of anything 

83,94 

SERVITUS, 



tt 

declaration that Devil is God .. .. ^ 

102 

SETH, 

Prof., 



n 

Hegelianism and Personality 

26, 27, 47 

tt 

on Hegel’s conception of the Absolute 

27 

SHANKARA 

r 


* 


Monistic School of Advaita 

16 

tt 


on study of nature 

11 

tt 


view of Veddnta 

18 

tt 


concept of Brahma . . 

30, 31, 45 

tt 


explanation of Universe 

34 

tt 


on Mdyd 

34, 40, 89 

n 


on one becoming many 

37, 46, 49 

tt 


Viveka Chddamani 

33, 41 

n 


Ananda Lahari 

42 

tt 


on Eternal Life 

43 

tt 


on Vivarta Theory 

43,44 

tt 


on conceptions of Word and Emanation 

44 

tt 


Sivatma Nirupana 

45 

tt 


on Self 

,*£1 

tt 


* Atma Anatma Viveka ” 

61 

tt 


claim for phenomenal world as reality 

66, 91 

tt 


answer to attack of Sankritists on 

91 

tt 


meaning of unreality of Universe 

93 



« V&kyaSAdha” 

93 

tt 


on necessity of phenomenal reality for enlightenment 




of Man 

94 

% 

tt 


gloss on Bhagaw&t Gita 

124 


9 t giuw vu j-m»g;a>vy»v vuwi •• . * • • •• * • «« 

8HATAPATHA BRAHMANA 1X3,134, 183 



xxiii 


SHEPHERD, 

„ story of Moses and . . 

SHRI BHASHYA, 

„ of Ramanuja .. 

siddhAnta muktAvali 

„ on Sattd pradam 


SIN, 


„ Brahman not author of 
SOLITUDE, 

,, retirement into, when recommended 
SOUL WORLD, 


„ according to Plato . * 
SPENCER (See Herbert Spencer ), 

„ ridicule of philosophy by Kirkman . . 
„ “ First Principles ” 

„ on consummation of human evolution 

SPINOZA, 

„ on Absolute Reality 

„ on Mdyd 

„ by J. Caird 



SPIRIT AND NATURE, 

„ as co-existing eternal principles 

„ Unity of . , ... ... 

SPIRITUAL ELEMENT, 

„ development of , . 


STERLING, Dr., 

„ on Hegel’s dialectic .. 

sureshwarAcharya 

suso, 

n on necessity of succession of lives 

syetAshvatara UPANISHAD 

„ on Mdyd 

„ 4, 18 

„ 5, 1 ~ 

™> 6 

swAtma nirCpana, 

„ of Shankara 




»*• !*• •*! 


Pagb 

143 

16, 17 
41 
44 

3 

135 

34 

14 

54 

97 

20 

39 

19,91 

33,39 

49 

57 

46 

91 

139 

180 

37 

10 

10 

191 

46 



xxiv 


SYMBOLS, Page 

„ necessity of, to explain truths 141 

„ Tuk&ram on the use of 141 


T 


TAGORE, Dr. Rabindra Nath, 

„ whether Brahma empty abstraction 8 

„ 4 S&dhana * 8, 15, 40, 124 

„ s’ vision 168 

TAITTIRtYA UPANISHAD 23,37,38,129,171,180,189 

„ „ 1.12,1 129 

„ ,, II, 1 • • . » • < • • • • 70 

„ 11,6 191 

„ „ Brahmana .. 189 


TAPAS, 

„ Connotation of 

„ of body, speech and mind 

TATWA BODHA 

TAT-TWAM-ASI 

„ when realized . . 

„ no conflict between ethical ideal and 

„ and Western Thought 

„ development of, by Eckhart 

„ ideal expressed by 

„ objections to, of Western Thinkers . . 

„ 1st objection that it is blasphemous . . 

, 2nd objection that it involves Self-annihilation 

„ 3rd objection that it is a species of Acosmism 

TAULER, 

„ on Emanation 

TEACHING 

„ Institutions of Ancient India 

TELANG, Mr. Justice, 

„ introduction to Bhagawat Gita 

THEOLOGIA GERMANICA 

„ view that God and Man are one 

»» p. 188 

» P« 73 

„ pp. 66, 45, 46 

„ shows introspective mysticism at best 


132, 133, 187 
133 

63 
19, 08 

4 

107 

74-97 

161 

74 

75 

76 
78 
98 

37 

148 

117 

76 

82 

103 

123 

128 

161 



xxv 


THIBAUT, Prof., Page 

„ Sacred Books of the East, Vol. 34 19 

THOMSON, 

„ view of ethical doctrine of Gita .. .. . . .. 118 

„ Bhagawat Gita 128 

TIELE, Dr ' 130, 131 

TIME, 

„ conception of, in region of Atman 62 

TRINE, R. W., 

„ What all the World’s a-seeking 120 

TRUTH, 

„ What is a necessary 53 


„ Absolute, how far conceivable, without union with relative , . 54 

„ distinction between philosophical and practical . . . . 75 

TUKARAMA, 

„ on use of Sj tnbols to explain truths , . . . . . 141, 142 

„ on importance of faith 155 

„ on use of lower passions . . . . 60 


u 

ULTIMATE REALITY, 

„ modern conception of . . . . . . 14 

„ according to J. Caird a Metaphysical Con- 
ception . . . . . . . . . . 20 

„ Spinoza on 20 

UNITY, 

„ alone is highest necessary truth 73 


UNIVERSE, 


9 $ 

M 

W 

ft 

ft 

If 

If 


when unreal 

Brahma the Samavdyee and IJpAdana Cause of . . 
relative reality not denied in Indian philosophy 
evolved by fixed laws 

growth and decay of, known to Ved&nta • . • • 

order, intelligence and purpose in* 

as independent entity 

Origin of, from Word, meaning Brahma . . 

in Plato’s system 

as Vdchdrambhamm Vikdro Ndmadheyam • • 
necessary for helping man towards self-realization 
aspects of problem of • . 


4 

11 

12 

15 

12 

15 

34 

35, 36, 44 
36 
36 
64 
87 




xxv i 


UNSEEN, the, 

Page 

»* 

is the real . . 

87 

upAdhi, 


tt 

what is meant by making self free from 

60 

UPANISHADS, 


ft 

Schopenhauer’s testimony 

6 

ft 

ethics of 

118 

UPTON, 

Prof., 


it 

on realization of the Absolute . . 

62 


Hibbert Lectures for 1893 

103,121 


V 


vAkya sudha 

VALLABHACHARYA, 

93 


, dualistic system of Veddnta 

16 

VAN de NAILLEN, 



, ‘ In the Sanctuary ’ 

67 

VASUDHAIVA KUTUMBAKAM, 



„ the idea of 

128 

VEDANTA, 


> 

leading ideas of 

1, 2 

tt 

impediments to understanding of 

1 

a 

recognises freedom of will 

3 

tt 

duties enjoined by 

4,7 

rt 

Hegelian critics of 

6 

tt 

is both philosophy and religion 

7, 74 

tt 

objections against 

8,167 

tt 

growth and decay of universe known to 

11,12 

tt 

description of Brahma . . 

.. 14 

ft 

not liable to be condemned for being Pantheistio . . 

105 

tt 

several systems of 

16 

tt 

recognises individualism in ethics 

108 

tt 

Shankar’s view of 

18 

tt 

Spinozistio in character 

21 

it 

Conception of Finite and Infinite 

22 

it 

Conception of Universe 

36 

tt 

ethics of 

111-131 

It 

aspects of 

16, 38 

tt 

Pantheism and 

98 

tt 

Cognition of Absolute according to 

63 

tt 

recognises qualitative differences in finite things . . 

109 



XXV11 


( VED ANT A, — continu ed) 

„ Key to correct reading of 


Page 

64 

„ Highest truth according to 

.. 

74 

„ Christian writer’s testimony . . 

.. 

139 

„ Ideals of, contained in teachings of Mahabharata 

Ramayana 

ar.d 

140 

„ as Religious Republic 

.. 

143 

„ power to strengthen soul for action and endurance 

. • 

148 

,, ideal of Tat-Twam-Azi — involves mysticism, objection that. 

150 

VEDANTA SARA, 

„ by Jacob .. 

.. 

178 

vedAnta sOtras, 

1.1 


94 

„ 1.1,2 3 


14 

„ 1.1,4 


33 

„ 1, 1 5 


36 

1,1,11 •• - 


43 

„ 1,1 12 


93 

»» I» 4, 3 . . . . . . . • . • 


44 

„ 1,4,9 


40 

„ 1, 4, 15 


10 

„ 1, 4, 26 


11, 15 

1-5,6 


15 

„ I, 15, 20 


37 

„ 11,1,9.16,35,36 


34 

„ 11, 1, 14 

. 11, 32, 30, 95 

„ II, 1, 18 


11 

„ 11,1,27 


2 

„ 11, 2, 1-6 


15 

„ II, 2, 7 


44 

11, 2, 25 


93 

„ II, 2, 38 


12 

„ II, 3, 7 


52 

„ II, 3, 13 


15 

„ 111,2,21 


25, 95 

Shankar’s gloss on 

• • 

179 


VEITCH, Prof., 

n conception of Brahma . . 

„ Knowing and Being 

vidyA 


24 

34,53 

181 


VIJNYANA BHIKSHU, pwln 

on Reconciliation of several systems of Indian Philo. 

sophy -• ^ " " 



xxviii 


Pacw 

VISHWAKABMAN 186 

VISISTHA-ADVAITA .. .. 16 

VIVAftTA VADA, 

„ (the theory of appearances) 44 

VIVEKA CHODAMANI 33, 41, 42, 92, 127, 130 

VIVEKA PRALAYA 48 

VIVEKANANDA SWAMI, 

„ Baja Toga 121, 131, 161 

w 

WALLACE, 

„ on Hegel’s Logic . . . . 16 

WEBER . .* 158, 164 

WILL, 


Freedom of, Scope for, in initial stages of development . . . . 107 


WILSON, Sir JL H., 

„ on Indian philosophy 6 

„ Essays on the Religion of the Hindus 38 

„ S&nkhya Karikd .. .. 40 

WORD, 

„ according to Vedanta 35,36,42,43 

„ according to Max Muller 36 

WORLD, 


creation of, not necessary condition of existence of God . . 63 


Y 

YOGA, 

„ works on, do not recognise mortification of flesh . . . . 134 

„ Rdja 121, 131, 135, 151 

„ Hatha , mortifioation of flesh belongs to 134 

„ S&nkkya and, in Bhagawat Gita illustrate division of Theory 

and Practice in Indian Systems .. — 166 

„ Sutras •• •• •• •• •• 11, 35, 131, 153 

z 

ZELLER, 


Outlines of Greek Philosophy 


29 





bo charged if the book Is overdue. 



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Vol. 

Author.- ... kltxti.diCjci.tu:. 

Title 'S.&u.ctieA ,.t>& 4,. V&aCex.rui.&L 


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